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Florida Hardest Hit Fund

The Florida Hardest Hit Fund is a foreclosure prevention assistance program designed to help residents of the Sunshine State. The pilot program launched in February 2010 in Lee County and became available to all Florida residents on April 18, 2011.

Florida Hardest-Hit Fund offers two programs to homeowners requiring help with first mortgage loans. These include: Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment Program (MLRP) and Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMAP). Both require residents to submit applications to determine if they meet eligibility criteria.

The Hardest Hit program is similar to Making Home Affordable; a government-sponsored program instituted by the Obama Administration in 2009. Originally, MHA was designed to help homeowners avoid foreclosure via loan modification or mortgage refinance.

As the program evolved, additional foreclosure prevention programs were added, along with foreclosure alternatives of real estate short sales and deed in lieu of foreclosure. Although the Hardest-Hit program does not alter mortgage terms or offer the options of short selling or deed in lieu, it does provide financial assistance to help borrowers prevent loan default.

The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program is offered to homeowners who are unemployed or underemployed. UMAP pays the homeowner's lender up to 6 months of mortgage installments. The maximum payout is $12,000 and only applies toward the first mortgage.

The Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment Program is offered to homeowners who re-entered the workforce after unemployment, but remain delinquent on loan installments. Qualified homeowners can receive up to $6,000 to cure mortgage arrears.

Florida Hardest-Hit Fund includes three eligibility factors which include: household, property, and mortgage. Applicants must be Florida residents who are unemployed or underemployed and the property must be used as their primary residence. Applicants' household income must fall below 140-percent of the median income in the area where property is located.

Applicants' first mortgage installment payments must exceed 31-percent of their monthly pre-tax income. If homeowners own assets or hold cash reserves which are equal to or greater than the total of 3 mortgage payments or total $5,000, they must use those assets or funds to pay loan payments or other existing debt before they will be eligible for UMAP or MLRP funds.

Details of established criterion for each factor are provided via the Florida Hardest Hit Frequently Asked Questions report provided at FLHardestHitHelp.org.

The application process can be completed online via the Hardest-Hit website. The process involves creating an online profile to provide homeowner, property, and lender information. Applicants are required to provide earned income information, financial hardship letter, and financial documents.

To date, Florida has received over $1 billion in federal funds to help cash-strapped homeowners. However, the strict eligibility requirements make it difficult for middle-class Americans to obtain mortgage debt relief.

Residents who do not qualify for Florida Hardest-Hit Fund should investigate Making Home Affordable options. These programs cannot be combined, so it's important to take time to review eligibility requirements for each and weigh the pros and cons to determine which program is better suited for your needs.

Lastly, homeowners facing foreclosure or in need of foreclosure alternatives can obtain HUD housing counseling. HUD counselors can help homeowners determine which government-sponsored programs are most suitable for their situation and assist with the application process.
A nationwide list of approved housing counseling agencies is provided at HUD.gov.

If you are in need of help to avoid foreclosure or cure mortgage arrears, we encourage you to peruse our foreclosure prevention article library. Here you'll find information and resources about a variety of foreclosure programs and strategies to overcome financial problems, stop foreclosure, or reduce the financial impact caused by foreclosure.