Federal Money Available to Help Avoid Florida Foreclosures

Our Miami foreclosure lawyers want to let those of you facing the possibility of losing your homes to the banks in on perhaps the best-kept, non-secret: There is actually a huge fund of money that is available to help you avoid foreclosure.
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What’s more, that money is available until the end of 2017.

Trouble is, not many people who deserve it are actually getting it.

The money is through the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, which doled out roughly $8 billion through the Hardest Hit Fund project. Granted this was only a small portion of the $700 billion this same taxpayer-funded agency gave to the housing markets and banks to keep us all from teetering over the brink of financial collapse, but it’s something nonetheless.

That $8 billion was to go to 18 states that were the “hardest hit.” Florida was at the top of that list, and as such, was given more than $1 billion.

The idea was that the money would go to homeowners who were either unemployed or those who worked, but didn’t earn enough to keep up with their mortgage. It was supposed to be a way for them to stay in their homes. Recently, the terms of eligibility were expanded to include other categories of homeowners as well.

The money was granted three years ago. And yet, the most recent report from the U.S. Treasury Department reveals that the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the one responsible for dispersing this relief, has only given out 10 percent of that $1 billion, as of the end of last year.

In comparison, Michigan had already dispersed three-fourths of its funds by that same time.

This delay is to the detriment of the homeowners who need it most, said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who recently penned an investigation request to the inspector general of TARP.

Part of it is that people aren’t being told about this option for relief. But the bigger issue is that the state housing corporation is, for whatever reason, being stingy with those funds. Nelson was quoted as saying that less than 20 percent of those who had applied for relief through the Hardest Hit program had been approved. That is the lowest of any of the states participating in the program.

All total, some 7,300 borrowers in Florida received relief through the program to allow them to stay in their homes. Of those, some 1,125 were in Broward and another 770 in Miami-Dade.

When you weigh how much is available versus how many people have applied versus how many people may be eligible – these numbers are abysmal.

A recent editorial by The Miami Herald editorial board indicated that there are a few glimmers of improvement, which may potentially signal a new direction. For example, eligibility requirements have been expanded from six months to 12 months. Additionally, the agency also upped the amount that can be used to help borrowers catch up on their late payments, as opposed to simply offering a principal reduction and leaving it at that.

This is encouraging, but we still have a long way to go.

Those who may have eligibility for this program should first contact a Miami foreclosure lawyer, as we will help fight to make sure your plea is weighed fairly and that your chances for approval are the best they can be.

If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Keeley for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Mortgage Wars,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.

Additional Resources:
Florida Housing Finance Corp. must stop stalling and help homeowners, April 6. 2013, Editorial, The Miami Herald
More Blog Entries:
Calls for Federal Housing Director’s Termination Get Louder, April 2, 2013, Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog