U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and U.S. Representatives James Langevin and David Cicilline joined representatives from Rhode Island Housing Wednesday to announce that since the end of January more than 1,475 R.I. homeowners have been approved for the 1-year-old foreclosure-prevention program, Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island (HHFRI).
“I was pleased the President responded to my request to include Rhode Island in the Hardest Hit program and provide the State with nearly $80 million in foreclosure-prevention assistance. This program is designed to offer targeted assistance to help families who’ve been hit hardest by the downturn stay in their homes. The key is to make sure this assistance is getting to those in need quickly, effectively, and responsibly and maximizing resources to help communities,” said Senator Reed.
As a service of Rhode Island Housing, HHFRI has distributed nearly $13 million to assist homeowners to prevent foreclosures and help stabilize the housing market. To date, HHFRI has assisted Rhode Islanders in every county of Rhode Island with the majority of program participants coming from Providence and Kent counties, which have had the highest numbers of foreclosures in the State.
“The economic downturn was especially deep in Rhode Island, and many of our neighborhoods are still recovering,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Through the Hardest Hit Fund, Rhode Island Housing is able to draw on substantial federal resources to help keep families in their homes. I am glad Senator Reed and I were able to help secure these funds for Rhode Island, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to find solutions that will help more Rhode Island homeowners avoid the stress of foreclosure.”
Of those seeking assistance through HHFRI, 65 percent claim unemployment as the reason for having difficulty making mortgage payments.
“Not only do we have a responsibility to assist those faced with losing their homes through no fault of their own but stabilizing the housing market and limiting foreclosures is also vital to our overall economic recovery,” said Congressman Langevin. “Rhode Island families simply cannot afford the continued drop in their home values that results from foreclosures, and I commend the leaders at HHFRI for their hard work dealing with this crisis.”
Wakefield’s Jay Harding, who works as an environmental systems supervisor at Rhode Island Army National Guard, applied for Hardest Hit funds when he realized he was in danger of defaulting on his mortgage. “I’d lost 25 percent of my income due to a change in employment, and we were upside down on our home loan because of decreasing property values,” Harding said. “I heard about HHFRI and immediately started the application process.”
He added that when he was approved for HHFRI, it was a “huge” relief. He noted, “HHFRI was there for us and for that we will always be grateful.”
“As our state continues to recover from this very difficult recession, too many Rhode Island families are struggling to keep their homes. The Hardest Hit Fund of Rhode Island has been a lifesaver for many Rhode Islanders and a great resource to my office as we work to help families stay in their homes,” said Congressman Cicilline.
Rhode Island Housing often hears about Rhode Islanders who do not think they are eligible for HHFRI because they are not delinquent on their mortgage. Not only are these homeowners eligible but the best time to seek assistance is before a homeowner starts to fall behind on mortgage payments. About half of HHFRI participants are actually current on their mortgage.
“Rhode Island Housing is glad that we have helped so many homeowners in our State during the inaugural year of this new program. We can help many more with these funds, which are still available,” said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “We have been working hard to spread the word about HHFRI assistance, and we continue to reach out to homeowners in communities throughout Rhode Island with free HHFRI informational meetings. I urge anyone experiencing a financial hardship who is struggling to make mortgage payments to attend a meeting.”
Rhode Island homeowners can learn more about HHFRI by attending a free informational HHFRI meeting. The next four meetings are scheduled at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 17, at Captain Isaac Paine Elementary School, 160 Foster Center Rd., Foster; 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, at the Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (Old State House), 150 Benefit St., Providence; 6 p.m. on Friday, February 24, at St. Paul's Church, 445 Elmwood Ave., Providence; and 6 p.m. on Monday, February 27, Mt. Hope Learning Center, 140 Cypress St., Providence.
If your lender is located out of state, you can apply for HHFRI assistance through a HUD approved and HHFRI certified counselor such as the Rhode Island Housing HelpCenter, 401-457-1130; or through your lender if it is a Rhode Island-based bank or credit union. For a list of participating lenders visit www.HHFRI.org.
HHFRI assistance will address Rhode Islanders’ unique situation but generally breaks down into the following areas:
- Help to make mortgage payments while unemployed.
- Help to make mortgage payments while underemployed.
- Help to make an immediate payment to save your home, such as unpaid property taxes.
- Help to obtain a loan modification from your lender.
- Help to assist homeowners who are in a severe financial crisis to relocate.