Sarasota real estate owners that need the most help are slow to get assistance with mortgage payments, according to a report released by the Federal Government. The report shows that as of June of this year, only seven percent of the $7.6 billion Hardest Hit Fund money has been used to assist homeowners in America who are under financial strain. It has been more than two years since the fund was announced. Seventeen states along with Washington D.C., received funding from this plan back in 2010.
Out of the $1 billion that was awarded to the state of Florida only $51 million (5%) has been used to help homeowners in the state up to this point.
The Hardest Hit Fund was audited earlier this year by the Troubled Asset Relief Program in order to find out why the plan is getting off to such a slow start. The audit found that the fund has a limited reach and is not getting out to enough people. Monies for the plan are "just sitting there" according to a Troubled Asset Relief Program representative.
In an effort to reach more people and give more funding, the Florida program was revamped in April of this year. There was an increase in the amount of money that can be received as well as an increase in the type of candidates that are eligible for the plan.
The restructured Florida plan has caused homeowner funding to double in the past three months according to David Westcott, a director at the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Initial costs to get the program up and running took about $16 million.
Westcott says that the housing finance company is pleased with the direction that the plan is now going in and that funding is likely to progress at a faster pace.
There are several facets of the Hardest Hit Fund with a number of funding options. Homeowners can get assistance with mortgage payments up to a maximum of $24,000 for a whole year. They can also use the option that allows for homeowners to catch up on payments that they are behind on for up to $18,000. Close to 37,000 Florida residents have applied for the program.
Applicants have to meet a small set of requirements in order to be eligible for the Hardest Hit Funding program. Among these are:
- The applicant must live in Florida and must be a legal citizen of the United States
- The property must be the persons primary residence
- The applicant must have at least a 10 percent decrease in income and must either be unemployed or underemployed
Some residents report that there are a few areas where the application process can be improved upon. This includes an improvement in paperwork and communicating with the non-profit groups that are in charge of taking applicants.
Individuals interested in the program can access applications online at flhardesthithelp.org. For those who prefer to call, the program can be reached by phone at 877-863-5244.