Funding still available to prevent foreclosures
by Anna Oakes
The 2007-2009 recession may officially be over, but for those who are still struggling to make their mortgage payments, the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund can help.
The program -- offered statewide by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency and funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury -- announced Jan. 21 that it has assisted 15,000 North Carolina homeowners and has funding available to assist 6,000 more.
The N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund makes mortgage payments for qualified unemployed workers, including returning veterans, while they look for jobs or complete job training. Homeowners seeking new employment after divorce or other hardships may also qualify.
"This has been a huge effort that is benefitting the whole state," said A. Robert Kucab, executive director of the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, in a statement. "Since the end of 2010, the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund has saved more than $2.1 billion in property, stabilizing property values and strengthening local economies. All 100 counties have benefitted."
Of the 15,000 homeowners who received loans, 8,850 have completed the assistance period and are responsible for their own mortgage payments again, Kucab said, adding that fewer than 2 percent have ended in foreclosure.
According to the agency, the fund has assisted 88 households in Watauga County with property valued at $15.2 million, 48 households in Avery County at $6.1 million and 76 households in Ashe County at $11.3 million.
"Although foreclosure filings have slowed in Watauga County, we are still seeing several, and there are families in our community who might be helped through the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund," said Diane Deal, clerk of Watauga County Superior Court.
The program is offered in two forms:
• A zero interest, deferred loan of up to $36,000 paying mortgage and related costs for up to 36 months while the unemployed homeowner seeks or retrains for a job.
• A zero interest loan to pay off a second mortgage. This can reduce the homeowner's total monthly payment to an affordable level and can help a homeowner who finds a new job, but at reduced income.
Homeowners do not need to be behind on their mortgage payments to apply. Watauga homeowners can apply at the Northwestern Regional Housing Authority, located at 869 N.C. 105 Extension, Suite 10, in Boone, or online at http://www.NCForeclosurePrevention.gov.
For more information, homeowners can call (888) 623-8631.