In these challenging times, many citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are faced with housing difficulties. Below you will find a list of some of the housing resources that are available to help you with your housing needs. This list is not meant to be exhaustive and is subject to funding availability. Individual circumstances will need to be considered when making a determination of eligibility.
Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
HAMP is designed to help financially struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by modifying loans to no more than 31% of their current gross monthly income.
Here are some initial eligibility guidelines for the HAMP program:
- You are currently behind on your mortgage or in danger of imminent default;
- The mortgage is on your primary residence;
- Your mortgage was originated on or before January 1, 2009;
- The unpaid balance on your mortgage must be no greater than $729,750;
- Your mortgage servicer participates in the HAMP program. Loans that are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are eligible for a HAMP review regardless of the servicer’s participation in or association with the HAMP program.
For more detailed information on the program, including participating services, please visit www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.
Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP)
HARP is designed to assist homeowners refinance their underwater mortgage(s).
Here are some initial eligibility guidelines for the HARP program:
- Mortgage must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac either on or before May 31, 2009;
- The mortgage cannot have been refinanced previously under HARP, unless it is a Fannie Mae loan and was refinanced between March – May 2009;
- You are current on your mortgage at the time of refinancing;
- There have been no late payments in the last six (6) months and no more than one late payment in the past twelve (12) months; and,
- The current loan-to-value ratio is greater than 80%.
Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP)
Individuals who are currently receiving unemployment benefits may qualify for the Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP). UP provides up to three months of assistance or reduction in mortgage payments.
Here are some initial eligibility guidelines for the UP program:
- You are currently unemployed and eligible for unemployment benefits;
- You occupy the house as your primary residence;
- You make your request for help before you’ve missed three (3) payments;
- You have not previously received a UP forbearance or HAMP modification; and,
- You obtained your mortgage on or before January 1, 2009.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Loans
FHA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and have several different modification options that may be available.
To determine if you may be eligible for a modification of your FHA loan, please consider the following:
- The property in question must be your primary residence; and,
- Your mortgage is either in default or at risk of default.
You can review some of the FHA options below. Please remember that not all options may be available to you, and your individual circumstances will need to be considered when determining eligibility:
- Deed in Lieu. An agreement between you and your lender to allow the mortgage to be satisfied in exchange for the deed to your property.
- Partial Claim. Your mortgage arrearage is placed on the back end of your mortgage and you resume your monthly mortgage payments.
- Special Forbearance. Your monthly payments are either reduced or postponed for up to six months. You must repay the amounts that you didn’t pay at the end of the postponement period.
- FHA-HAMP. Provides homeowners in default a greater opportunity to retain homeownership using a partial claim combined with a loan modification.
For more information concerning FHA loans in Pennsylvania, please visit
http://www.hud.gov/buying/loans.cfm or contact the FHA National Servicing Center at 1-877-622-8525.
In-house modifications vary greatly from servicer to servicer. The guidelines for these modifications are set by the servicer and you should discuss the qualifications for such modifications directly with your servicer.
For more information on contacting your lender, please reference the HUD Contacting Your Lender guide.
Mortgage Diversion Program
The Mortgage Diversion Program is only available in the counties that have adopted such a program and is only available to individuals who have been sued in foreclosure. This program is designed and administered solely by the local County Court of Common Pleas. For more information and to see if your county has a program, you should contact your local county Court of Common Pleas, by visiting http://www.pacourts.us/T/SupremeCourt/
The Diversion Program is a court ordered mediation between an owner-occupant of a residential property and a mortgage servicer. The program is designed to allow a homeowner to have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with a representative of their lender and discuss possible work out options.
Here are examples of counties that have a Diversion Program and basic information on enrollment. You should still contact your local County Court of Common Pleas to discuss enrollment and participation options.
- Allegheny County (Enrollment: Call the “Save your home hotline” at 1-866-298-8020.)
- Bucks County (Enrollment: Call the hotline at 1-866-760-8911.)
- Butler County (Enrollment: Must contact a counselor at 1-888-511-2227, extension 108. This call and the services rendered are free.)
- Fayette County (Enrollment: Information is sent to you after your foreclosure notice. You can call 1-724-439-3591 for free foreclosure mitigation counseling advice.)
- Lackawanna County (Enrollment: They send you a notice after you have received your foreclosure notice, and you have 20 days to respond.)
- Lehigh County (Enrollment: contact a housing counselor from the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley)
- Monroe County (Enrollment: Information is sent to you in the mail after notice has been made of your foreclosure. You must then call 1-800-922-9537 to enroll.)
- Northampton County (Enrollment: Must file a mortgage foreclosure complaint with the Northampton County courts)
- Philadelphia County (Enrollment: Must contact Save Your Home Philly Hotline at 215-334-HOME)
- Somerset County (Enrollment: Somerset County Court will send the appropriate enrollment documentation with your mortgage foreclosure)
- Washington County (Enrollment: Information is sent to you in the mail and you must attend a Foreclosure mitigation counseling session. Details included with your notice.)
Be cautious about SCAMS…
Unfortunately, during this difficult time for families some unscrupulous folks try to take advantage of homeowners.
If someone offers to negotiate a loan modification for you or to stop or delay foreclosure for a fee, carefully check his or her credentials, reputation, and experience, watch out for warning signs of a scam, and always maintain personal contact with your lender and/or mortgage servicer.
No one can guarantee you a loan modification. Guarantee of a favorable outcome should raise red flags. Neither Federal nor State law requires a lender to modify a loan and as such a guaranteed outcome is an unreasonable expectation.
Be wary if someone asks for payment, money, or your bank account information. If you have provided your bank account information to someone, you should immediately contact your savings institution and have your account number changed.
There is a lot of no-cost assistance available to homeowners. Your first call should be to a HUD approved housing counselor who can assist you at no cost. For more information on finding a HUD approved housing counselor, you can visit http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm.
If you believe you have been scammed you should file a complaint through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov or through the Commonwealth’s Attorney General’s office at 1-800-441-2555.
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