Gov't Helps Oregon Bail Out Homeowners

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — On Friday the state of Oregon began offering homeowners full access to a first-of-its-kind statewide program designed to offer mortgage payment assistance to struggling homeowners. Eligible homeowners can get their mortgages paid for one year and hopefully save their homes in the process.

The program is only taking applications from Dec. 10 to Jan. 14, so you’ll have to get going soon. Once you apply, the Oregon Homeowner Stabilization Initiative’s software will run your data and notify you if you qualify. Responses are expected to go out shortly after January 14, 2011, according to the website.

Oregon and the federal government have provided a combined $100 million toward the program, which the state figures is enough to help about 5,000 homeowners facing foreclosure. The Department of the Treasury gave 16 other states money from a special fund for states hit hardest by the recession.

The program aims to help homeowners pay their mortgages for up to one year, with a maximum payout of $20,000, and it is restricted to Oregon homeowners with household income below 120% of the state’s median individual income. According to the OHSI, that breaks down like this:

Household                               Income

One member household          $51,960

Two member household          $59,280

Three member household       $66,720

Four people or more               $74,160

Other considerations for eligibility include:

  • The homeowner’s current mortgage must date before Jan. 1, 2009.
  • The homeowner must be unemployed or have a verifiable loss in income of 25% or more.
  • The homeowner cannot have more than four months of mortgage payments available as liquid assets. (Retirement and education savings accounts are okay).
  • The homeowner must complete and sign a Financial Hardship Affidavit.
  • The homeowner, in connection with a mortgage or real estate transaction, cannot have been convicted, within the last 10 years, of any one of felony larceny, theft, fraud or forgery, money laundering or tax evasion.
  • The subject property must be an owner-occupied, primary residence, and be located in Oregon.

Additionally, a homeowner cannot have a loan balance that exceeds $729,750 and cannot be in the midst of foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings.

Under certain circumstances, the money must be repaid, too. Technically, funds provided to homeowners are defined by the state as “five-year, forgivable, interest free, non-recourse loans." "OHSI will defer all payments and forgive 20% of the balance each year,” the website states, “[but] if a homeowner gets Mortgage Payment Assistance and sells their home or refinances the home within five years, the homeowner may have to repay some of the assistance.”

If you live in Oregon, need help with your mortgage payments, and meet the above criteria, your state and federal government just threw you a lifeline. Make sure to grab it.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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