Hope for Homeowners tries to help crisis

October 1, 2008 6:38:20 PM PDT
So, where do the candidates stand on a $300 billion federal housing program that went into effect Wednesday? This is a bill that passed this summer, and was pitched as Washington's fix for the mortgage crisis.

This is one of those bills that both Senator John McCain (R) of AZ, and Senator Barack Obama (D) of Ill., didn't vote on. Those that work or council homeowners, trying to avoid foreclosures, say this bill may actually help some people do just that.

It's called Hope For Homeowners and is the latest program designed to help as many as 400,000 Americans avoid foreclosure over the next three years. The program would provide at-risk homeowners with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, guaranteed by the federal housing authority.

Richard Rainey is regional director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"The loan has to be for 90 percent of the current value of the home, so it has to be for the current assessment, and not what they paid for it. And the lender has to agree to that. This is voluntary on the part of the lender," said Rainey.

To qualify, a home must be an applicant's primary residence, their payments must be at least 31 percent of their monthly gross income as of march of this year, and the loan must've originated before 2008.

"I'm trying to avoid it," said Merlyn Amaya.

Amaya is aggressively trying to save her San Lorenzo home from foreclosure, but her efforts to work with Countrywide Mortgage have been unsuccessful. Amaya hasn't heard of Hope for Homeowners, but she knows she's starting to lose hers and any faith in the aid packages coming out of Washington.

"You call to the Housing Department of the United States, and nobody gives you any information, they say go to the website," said Amaya. "So where is the help? I don't have any help."

"It's an equity sharing program," said Housing Analyst Larry Hynsen.

Hynsen does think Hope for Homeowners will help many people, but also warns, if the home is sold, the government will come looking for its share of the deal.

"In return for the Federal bailout, when you sell the home, a certain percentage of that money would go back to the federal government," said Hynson.

As ABC7 heard from HUD, lender participation in this program is strictly voluntary. So far only three lenders nation-wide have signed up to participate in the program. The hope is that more will jump in, especially if Congress the bailout package.

For more information on the Hope for Homeowners program and who qualifies for it: click here


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