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American Job Centers:
Assistance to Homeowners and Individuals Facing Foreclosure




American Job Center Participation in Homeowners Community Events

The Employment and Training Administration issued Training and Employment Notice 12-09 in October 2009. This TEN provided information regarding the engagement of the public workforce system with the HOPE NOW Alliance to maximize homeownership and prevent unnecessary foreclosures. In the two years since the TEN's release, many Workforce Investment Boards and American Job Centers have participated in a series of "Help for Homeowners Community Events" held in cities and military bases across the United States. These free events have provided opportunities for individuals to meet with mortgage lender or a HUD-approved housing counselor, and determine whether they might qualify for the Administration's Making Home Affordable Program (HAMP) or other options from your lender. The sessions have also permitted workforce professionals to acquaint many unemployed individuals with the staff, services and tools available through the American Job Center Network and CareerOneStop.



Making Home Affordable Program Application Deadline Extended to December 31, 2013

In an effort to enable more struggling homeowners to take advantage of the Making Home Affordable (MHA) Program, the Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development have extended the application deadline of the program to December 31, 2013. The Departments also expanded the eligibility criteria for MHA to be able to offer assistance to more struggling homeowners. The Departments also note that military homeowners who are permanently displaced by a job related move may still qualify as owner-occupants, which means you may still qualify for a HAMP mortgage modification.



Hardest Hit Fund Availability in 18 States

The Administration established the Hardest Hit Fund in February 2010 to provide targeted aid to families in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. The HHF provides funding for state HFAs to develop locally-tailored foreclosure prevention solutions in areas that have been hard hit by home price declines and high unemployment. This program evolved from a $1.5 billion initiative focused on HFAs in the five states with the steepest home price declines and the vast majority of underwater homeowners to a broader-based $7.6 billion initiative encompassing 18 states and the District of Columbia.

States were selected for funding either because they were struggling with unemployment rates at or above the national average or steep home price declines greater than 20 percent. Each state's program was designed and is administered by that state's housing finance agency (HFA). The states are California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina, Alabama, Washington DC, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey and Tennessee.

Hardest Hit Fund programs vary state to state, but may include the following:

  • Mortgage payment assistance for unemployed or underemployed homeowners
  • Principal reduction to help homeowners get into more affordable mortgages
  • Funding to eliminate homeowners' second lien loans
  • Help for homeowners who are transitioning out of their homes and into more affordable places of residence.

Most HHF programs target assistance toward unemployed homeowners and those with homes that are worth less than the value of their mortgages.

HHF Fact Sheets / Quarterly Reports / Proposals and Amendments / Link to State HFA Websites



WWW.HOMEOWNERCONNECT.ORG and WWW.HOPELOANPORTAL.ORG

The workforce community can also help homeowners seeking assistance by pointing them to the Consumer Direct Portal at www.homeownerconnect.org

Homeowner Connect helps borrowers get information on assistance programs, find a local counselor or begin the modification process directly through the website.

The major features include:

  • Local Resources: Through a link with MortgageKeeper, Homeowner Connect provides all visitors access to a vast database of local resources available for consumers for both mortgage assistance and any financial assistance. Just enter the appropriate zip code to begin the exploration.
  • Helping Unemployed Borrowers: Through links to free Unemployment Benefit information, such as CareerOneStop's job resources as well as mortgage assistance for out of work homeowners, the site provides valuable information for homeowners out of work.
  • Connect with a Counselor: Homeowner Connect provides a national map from which homeowners can find a free, non-profit local housing counselor registered with Hope LoanPort, to gather their information, discuss their situation, and begin the foreclosure alternative application process of submitting a request to their mortgage servicer.
  • Self-Engage in a Workout: Borrowers with participating servicers can even enter an application directly and securely through Homeowner Connect. At any time if the homeowner feels unsure of the process they can engage a local housing counselor to take over the process, again, all free of charge.
  • Helping Military Families: We provide free, non-profit resources available to American military families to help cope with financial difficulties. This includes links to VA mortgage assistance and other financial assistance options for military families.

Hope LoanPort (HLP), a 501(3)(c) corporation, was conceived and viewed by the HOPE NOW Alliance technology committee in 2009 as an important resource offering a neutral, national web portal. Hope LoanPort offers technology solutions for providing free assistance to homeowners as well as their counselors approved by HUD or certified through NeighborWorks America's administration of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program.

Under this service mission, the developed www.hopeloanportal.org site provides assistance information and a place where homeowners can search for a local non-profit, HLP registered counselor. Hope LoanPort is a starting point for beginning the workout process and for submitting applications via a secure, neutral portal. It is also a starting point for directly linking to the servicers of over 80% of the nation's mortgages, while aligning to the industry and federal requirements for status updates and communication.

Hope LoanPort also continues to participate in homeowner outreach workshops sponsored by the HOPE NOW Alliance and the Making Home Affordable program.



HUD's "Avoiding Foreclosure Resources" Page

The workforce community is reminded that HUD's resource page provides valuable summaries on which program options may be best suited for an individual's particular circumstances. These include:

  • Modify or Refinance Your Loan for Lower Payments (HAMP, PRA, 2MP, HARP)
  • "Underwater" Mortgages (HARP, PRA, FH2LP)
  • Assistance for Unemployed Homeowners (UP, EHLP in Specific States, FHA Forebearance for Unemployed Homeowners)
  • Managed Exit for Borrowers (HAFA, "Redemption")
  • Federal Housing Administration Mitigation Programs


HUD Mortgage Servicing Settlement: Identification of Resources

In its discussion of the Mortgage Servicing Settlement, HUD notes:

The Administration is committed to ensuring that everyone in the mortgage process - banks, mortgage servicers, and other institutions - are following the law. If they've not followed the law they should be held accountable. Banks and mortgage services expect that homeowners will meet their obligations under a mortgage; American homeowners should have the same expectation that banks and mortgage servicers meet all of their responsibilities.

And it is our job in the federal government and in state and local government to make sure that they do. In meeting that obligation, the Obama Administration has coordinated the reviews and investigations conducted by a broad range of federal agencies and with the 50 state attorneys general to reach a servicing settlement agreement with lenders who have violated state and federal law and Americans' trust.