Many struggling Tennessee families are now receiving help with their house payments through the Keep My Tennessee Home program.
Tennessee is one of 18 states to receive federal “hardest hit” funds, according to a statewide press release.
The United States Treasury has provided $217 million worth of funds to the Keep My Tennessee Home program, which the Tennessee Housing Development Agency administers to eligible families, said Patricia Smith, director of public affairs for the THDA.
The Keep My Tennessee Home program helps unemployed and underemployed homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes because they can’t pay the mortgage, according to the press release.
It began as a pilot program in January 2011, and targeted certain counties, Smith said. Campbell County wasn’t one of the counties.
In July 2011, the program became available to all counties in Tennessee.
Foreclosure and unemployment rates are used to target certain counties.
Applicants in targeted counties can receive up to $25,000 in assistance. Applicants in counties that aren’t targeted can receive up to $20,000 in aid.
The THDA board will meet Sept. 25 to discuss possible program changes that could affect how much help applicants from different counties receive.
Campbell County isn’t a targeted county.
“Campbell County was not hit as hard as other counties,” Smith said.
There have been 59 applicants from Campbell County so far. Out of the applicants, 40 are eligible for the program, and been assigned to a counselor, Smith said.
To receive help, homeowners must apply to the program online at keepmytnhome.org, where they answer preliminary questions, Smith said.
Applicants are then connected to a foreclosure prevention counselor who will determine if they are eligible for participation in the program.
The foreclosure prevention counseling services are provided by non-profit organizations outside the THDA.
In East Tennessee Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise Clinch Powell Eight R C and D Eastern Eight D C Knox Housing Partnership Knoxville Area Urban League provide these services.
Counselors walk eligible homeowners through the program.
In order to be eligible for the program, homeowners must meet certain qualifications, including being unemployed or underemployed, meaning they have received at least a 30 percent reduction in income, since later than Jan. 1, 2008, according to the press release.
Eligible homeowners must also have a mortgage for single-family homes or condominiums in Tennessee they live in as a primary residence, the total unpaid principal balance must not exceed $275,000 and the homeowner’s household income must be less than $92,680.
Applicants from Campbell County can receive up to $20,000 worth of help with their mortgage payments, and other related expenses, such as property taxes, insurance and past due mortgage payments, according to the press release.
The first priority for the THDA is past due mortgage payments.
“Let’s get you caught up,” Smith said. “We go to past due (mortgage payments) first, and then moving forward.”
Everyone is eligible to receive free foreclosure prevention counseling from not for profit counseling organizations, Smith said.
They can find them at keepmytnhome.org. Those interested can call them to make appointments.