Mass. Homeowners Scramble To Get Federal Loan Help

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Local housing activists are among those across the nation scrambling to take advantage of a federal emergency homeowner loan program before an important deadline this Friday.

Massachusetts is among 33 states sharing in a billion dollar mortgage relief effort run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD opened the program less than one month ago and many Boston-area activists say that's made for a tight time frame.

HUD has allocated $61 million for Massachusetts to help unemployed or underemployed homeowners prevent foreclosure. For housing counselors like Robert Credle, who is with the nonprofit Community Development Corporation, that money has been a long time coming.

"A lot of people need these loans and they're available, but to get people qualified for this in two and a half weeks has been a very difficult task," Credle said.

To qualify, homeowners must be at least 90 days behind on their mortgage due to loss of income. Those who qualify will receive an emergency loan up to $50,000 over two years and if they meet the requirements and stay in their home, they will not have to pay the loan back.

Lew Finfer, housing activist with the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, is concerned that many in need will not meet all of the technical requirements or manage to meet the deadline.

“There are 1,260 people in Massachusetts that are going to get this program,” Finfer said. "If it somehow ends up that only 1,000 (get assistance) because of these deadlines to apply, that would be a tragedy.”

Barbara Fields, HUD’s regional administrator for New England, recognized that there are obstacles in getting candidates qualified for the funds.

“I understand the frustration, and I think that there are many responsible parties and we were trying to move this along as quickly as possible,” Fields said.

Initial applications for mortgage relief must be in by Friday.

For more information on how to apply for the emergency loan program, visit NeighborWorks America.

This program aired on July 20, 2011.

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Delores Handy Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.



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