The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will launch a new mortgage assistance program on Wednesday, Sept. 28, that will allow citizens with underwater homes—homeowners who owe more than their home is currently worth—to apply for up to $50,000 in financial assistance. Underwater Georgia is funded through the U.S. Department of Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund® program, which was created to help families most impacted by the housing crisis that began in 2007.
Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson, a member of the DCA Board, encourages community residents to take advantage of this one-time opportunity. “This program is intended to help those with home mortgages that exceed the value of their home due to market effects from the nation’s housing crisis,” Hanson said.
Underwater Georgia, administered in Georgia by the DCA as part of its HomeSafe Georgia program, utilizes finite federal funding to help Georgians through a one-time payment to reduce the principal balance on their homes. The targeted funds will assist individuals in communities throughout the state and is thereby also expected to fuel local economies. Since a large concentration of properties with negative equity puts a community at risk and can delay a housing recovery, this program benefits not only individuals but entire communities, as well.
While the housing market has strengthened in recent years, many homeowners continue to experience the lingering effects of the housing crisis. According to CoreLogic, a provider of consumer, financial and property information to business and government, nearly 9 percent (over 150,000 Georgians) are “underwater” on their homes as of the first quarter of 2016. Underwater Georgia will give a hand up—approximately $110 million—to nearly 3,000 Georgians through this program.
For three weeks, from Sept. 28-Oct. 18, 2016, Georgia residents who meet the eligibility requirements will be able to visit www.UnderwaterGeorgia.org to complete a pre-application for these funds. The key eligibility requirements to be considered for Underwater Georgia’s one-time mortgage assistance are:
- Owe more than home is currently worth.
- Owe no more than $250,000.
- Purchased home before 2012.
- Less than 90 days late on mortgage.
- Mortgage lender is willing to participate.
- Have not previously received HomeSafe Georgia assistance.
All applications will be assigned a number, which will be sent to a third party for a blind random selection process. Next, the randomly selected applications will be reviewed, in the order selected, for eligibility and those deemed eligible will continue through the process. The program will continue until the set-aside funds are utilized. However, since funding is limited, not all eligible applicants will receive the financial assistance.
In anticipation of citizens’ great interest in this program, DCA has established a 24/7 Housing Call Center to take calls during the open period, 24/7. Homeowners may access this call center by calling 877-519-4443 or the TDD/TYY Line at 877-204-1194. Staff members at this call center will be able to handle language-access needs for those who speak a language other than English.
To apply for the Underwater Georgia initiative, visit www.UnderwaterGeorgia.org.