Press Contact Only:
Margaret Matrone, NCHFA, 919-877-5606,
Connie Helmlinger, NCHFA, 919-877-5607,
As more North Carolinians lose their jobs in the wake of the country’s economic meltdown, a program expanded by the General Assembly this year offers help to displaced workers who face foreclosure. Their $3 million appropriation will allow the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency and local counseling organizations to expand the Home Protection Program from 61 to all 100 counties and to increase the benefits available for displaced workers, effective Nov. 1.
The General Assembly created the Home Protection Program in 2004 through collaboration with the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, the N.C. Justice Center, and the N.C. Housing Coalition to help workers who lose their jobs as the result of plant closings and other changing economic conditions.
“North Carolina is fortunate the General Assembly created this program when it did so that resources are in place to assist with the current housing crisis,” said Lucius S. Jones, chairman of the Housing Finance Agency’s Board of Directors. “It provides the only financial help that is available in the state for families who face foreclosure as the result of plant closings.”
Qualifying homeowners who have lost their job can receive zero-interest loans while they are looking for another job or participating in an approved retraining program. The amount and length of the assistance will vary based upon homeowners’ circumstances, with the maximum amount of the loan $24,000 and 24 months.
The loan term and amount were increased from previous limits based on program experience to enable homeowners to complete job retraining, which generally takes two years, and reflect the average mortgage payment of $1,000 per month. Repayment of the loan is deferred for 15 years, unless the home is sold, refinanced or is no longer the principal residence of the owner.
To be eligible for a loan, homeowners must meet the following criteria. They must:
- have lost their job due to changing economic conditions
- have a mortgage that is secured by real property
- demonstrate an ability to resume their mortgage payment after the assistance ends
- have had a stable employment and credit history prior to losing their job.
Homeowners apply for assistance through one of 23 participating local agencies, which offer housing counseling and determine whether applicants are eligible for assistance from the loan fund.
To expand the program statewide, the N.C. Housing Finance Agency approved six additional counseling agencies: Cumberland Community Action Program, Inc., Fayetteville; Triangle Family Services, Inc., Raleigh; River City Community Development, Elizabeth City; Wilmington AME Zion Housing Development Corp.; CCCS of Gaston County, Gastonia; Northeastern Community Development Corp., Camden; and Twin Rivers Opportunities, Inc., New Bern.
“In the four years we have been operating the Home Protection Program, most of our clients who lost their jobs have been able to get stable employment and save their homes,” said Louise Mack, executive director of Prosperity Unlimited in Kannapolis. The closing of Pillowtex textile plants in Kannapolis was an impetus for creating the loan program.
“The year between Pillowtex closing and the Home Protection Program beginning, we saw a lot of home losses due to unemployment. Once we had this wonderful tool in place, we saw a huge difference – not only were more people able to keep their homes, but they had access to a financial education that they didn’t have before,” Mack said. She added that her agency has seen twice as many people already in 2008 as in 2007. “We will really need this program in the future.”
Since its creation, the Home Protection Program has helped 364 families pay their mortgage while they seek jobs or retrain for new ones. In addition:
- 533 homeowners have benefited from a 120-day stay-of-foreclosure
- $30 million of property has been saved from foreclosure
- more than 3,000 homeowners have benefited from financial counseling.
The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency is a self-supporting public agency. It has financed 184,000 affordable homes and apartments in the last three decades, including nearly 77,000 homes for first-time home buyers. To learn more, go to www.nchfa.com or call 919-877-5700 or 800-393-0988.