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Emergency Homeowners Loan Program To Disperse $1B To Help Save Homes

It's about damn time. "Implementation delays"? Doesn't sound like it was enough of a priority. Think of all the pain that could have been avoided: Sandra Allwine has been pleading with her bank for more than two years to modify the mortgage on

It's about damn time. "Implementation delays"? Doesn't sound like it was enough of a priority. Think of all the pain that could have been avoided:

Sandra Allwine has been pleading with her bank for more than two years to modify the mortgage on her Arlington County home. Despite exhausting all her savings and having her daughter move in to help with her $3,000 mortgage payment, Allwine, 65 and unable to find work, is struggling to save her home from foreclosure.

In June, a potential lifeline opened up. The newly launched $1 billion Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program, or EHLP, is targeting homeowners who are among the most difficult to help: those who fell behind on their payments because of job loss or unexpected medical bills. For many of them, it might be the last chance to save their homes.

“We were normal middle-class Americans who had saved and lived very carefully and frugally . . . and still wound up getting kicked in the teeth,” Allwine said. She applied as soon as she heard about the program.

If she is approved, the government will subsidize Allwine’s mortgage payments for a maximum of $50,000 over two years. After that, the interest-free loan will be forgiven over five years if she stays in her home and stays current on her payments.

EHLP is the latest government program targeting the nearly 1.8 million homeowners like Allwine facing foreclosure. It is going to have to move fast: The program was supposed to start last year, but implementation delays mean that the Department of Housing and Urban Development must spend all its $1 billion by the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, Sept. 30.

That gives homeowners in 27 states, including Virginia, until July 22 to complete their applications. If demand outstrips available funds, HUD will run a lottery to pick successful applicants. Five additional states, including Maryland, are subject to slightly different rules, which gave them more time to spend the funds, because they started taking EHLP applications earlier under similar state-run programs.

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