One of the most difficult and stressful situations a person or family can face is the possibility of losing their home. While these individuals and families struggle to keep their homes, others are in desperate need of finding an affordable place to live. Fortunately, help is available. Regardless of one’s current housing situation, there are a number of programs administered through agencies at the federal, state, and local levels of government which are designed to help homeowners stay in their homes and find affordable housing for those who need it. However, with so many different options, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and frustrated with the process of getting this critical assistance. The following is a brief summary of some of the most common forms of housing assistance available in the Big Bend region along with useful contact points to get started.
Getting Help from the Federal Government
Homeowners concerned about foreclosure should make it a priority to familiarize themselves with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal House Administration (FHA), which falls under the office of HUD. According to the department’s website, HUD works to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; and to utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination. Of course, providing homeowners with a path to stable and permanent home ownership is a vital component of this mission.
There are over a dozen programs administered through HUD and FHA designed to provide assistance to those facing foreclosure. To learn more about these programs and to determine eligibility, please consider the following options:
- Call the HOPE NOW hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. HUD-approved housing counselors are available to help homeowners understand their options, prepare their application, and work with their mortgage company. This service is provided free of charge. Expert advisors are available who speak over 160 languages, and calls are answered within seconds.
- Visit www.HUD.gov to find a HUD-approved housing counselor, free of charge, as well as in-depth information on all government housing assistance and foreclosure prevention programs.
- Additional federal resources can be found by visiting www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov, which helps families facing foreclosure or unaffordable mortgage payments get relief, and www.nationalmortgatesettlement.com, which can assist families who may be eligible for help through the settlement.
Getting Help Locally
While the majority of foreclosure prevention programs are administered through HUD and FHA, there are resources available locally as well. However, the primary focus of most local programs is on providing low-income housing, housing rehabilitation services, and support to first-time home buyers.
- Leon County Foreclosure-Prevention Assistance Program – The County will provide to qualified Leon County residents up to $7,500 in foreclosure prevention assistance to bring current the existing first mortgage for their primary residence. Where applicable, assistance will be approved for credit counseling, refinancing costs, and the amount required to bring the mortgage current after other relief measures have been exhausted. Applicants will be considered on a first come, first qualified basis. Visit www.myleonhome.org for more information.
- Tallahassee Housing Authority – THA administers two family self-sufficiency programs, public housing and Section 8, and has a full time certified maintenance program as well as its own Finance Department. Visit www.tallha.org for more information.
- City of Tallahassee Economic & Community Development – The City of Tallahassee provides affordable housing strategies; housing rehabilitation, and relocation activities. Specific programs include:
- Emergency Home Repair Program – Improves the living conditions of low-income homeowners by removing health and safety hazards and/or architectural barriers from their homes.
- Homeowner Rehabilitation Program – improves the stock of owner occupied housing.
- Rental Rehabilitation Program – Provides assistance to existing residential rental property owners.
- Purchase Assistance Program – Assists low-income residents in purchasing a home by offering down payment and closing cost assistance to qualified applicants. A loan of up to $8,000 is available for down payment or closing costs towards a new or existing home. For very low-income residents who qualify to purchase a home, an additional $5,000 loan is available.
- Visit http://www.talgov.com/ecd/housing/programs.cfm for more information.