Sep 11 2012

Tennessee expands mortgage assistance program

Chattanooga, Tenn. — Due to the recent expansion of Tennessee’s mortgage assistance program known as the “Hardest Hit Fund,” thousands of homeowners on disability can rest a little easier now that they are eligible for the Hardest Hit Medical Fund.

As a result of having an unemployment rate higher than the national average, Tennessee is among 18 states considered hardest hit by foreclosure. As a result, the state received $217 million in federal Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding to assist unemployed or underemployed homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes. This funding created the Hardest Hit Fund. Since the Hardest Hit Fund program began in March 2011, CNE has administered more than $4.5 million in payment assistance to more than 200 unemployed or underemployed homeowners locally.

Recently, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) received $25 million from the National Mortgage Settlement to assist even more Tennessee homeowners. THDA has utilized these additional funds to expand the existing Hardest Hit Fund program to include homeowners who have had a reduction in income due to receiving long-term disability. Like the Hardest Hit Fund, the new program, dubbed the Hardest Hit Medical Fund, is not a long-term solution, but will help financially-troubled homeowners keep up with house payments in their time of need. Homeowners do not have to be delinquent to qualify for assistance.

Overseen by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, the Hardest Hit Medical Fund has called upon Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE), a local nonprofit, to administer the application process for Hamilton County and surrounding areas, including Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Marion, Meigs, McMinn, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie Counties.

“The Hardest Hit Medical Fund is a great example of federal, state and local government partnering together to achieve something extraordinary,” said Jeremy Fitzsimmons, senior foreclosure prevention specialist at Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise.

Tennessee’s Hardest Hit Medical Fund program could pay up to 18 months of eligible homeowners’ payments on their mortgage and mortgage-related expenses, including property taxes, homeowner insurance, homeowner association dues and past-due mortgage payments that accumulated since the hardship.

“With a wide array of programs and services available, Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise is there during times of need to give homeowners a fighting chance to keep control of finances and plan ahead for a promising, stable future for themselves and their families,” said Fitzsimmons.

Applicants can register for assistance online at www.cneinc.org or call the Foreclosure Prevention Hotline at (423) 664-4663.