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Deadline extended for troubled homeowner loans

Past due mortgage statement

Past due mortgage statement Photo Credit: iStock

The initial deadline to get a federal, interest-free loan has been extended to Wednesday for homeowners struggling to pay mortgages.

Friday had been the original deadline to fill out an eligibility worksheet for the Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program, rolled out June 20 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and NeighborWorks America, a network of 225 community development nonprofits. The loans would go toward monthly mortgage bills for up to two years or up to $50,000, whichever comes first. Homeowners would still have to chip in part of the monthly mortgage.

The $1 billion program is on the fast track because the federal budget for this current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, was passed so late. HUD officials are trying to allocate the money before the fiscal year expires or else risk having the unspent money taken away to cover other parts of the federal budget. This comes as Congress and President Barack Obama wrangle over whether the deficit should be raised.

Homeowners who pass the eligibility screening would be asked to fill a formal application for the loan. If they get the loan, the money would go directly to lenders and can be used to pay past due charges, such as taxes, attorney fees and insurance, HUD officials said.

The help is for homeowners whose income has dropped at least 15 percent from 2009 levels due to layoffs, reduced earnings or medical emergencies. Also, they must be at least three months late and the monthly mortgage bill exceed 31 percent of their monthly income.

Under eligibility rules for Long Islanders, the maximum household income is $124,300.

For details, applications and a nonprofit participating in the program, go to findehlp.org or call 1-855-346-3345.

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