Eligibility check: GA program helps fight foreclosures

Eligibility check: GA program helps fight foreclosures
(Source: AP Graphics)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Homeowners who have fallen behind on house payments may be surprised to learn who is eligible for a program designed to help people keep their homes.

HomeSafe Georgia helps people do that and has $160 million available.

For many, foreclosing on a home is a painful reality when life takes an unexpected turn.

"We have all been expected to take care of ourselves so when we are in that position it's very hard to ask for assistance even though you need it," explained HomeSafe Outreach Coordinator Cynthia Harrison.

HomeSafe helps keep families in their homes by picking up the mortgage payments for up to two years.

On Monday she told Dougherty County Commissioners about the federally funded program to help Georgians facing financial hardship keep their home.

Harrison says she often encourages people at job fairs to look into the program, and is surprised by how many people say they don't need it.

"Because they just lost a job and they feel there is another job waiting for them and then many times I will see them at another job fair, and they still haven't found a job," Harrison said.

Georgia must spend all $160 million before the end of 2017.

HomeSafe Georgia will pick up the payment to the bank for up to two years.  If the homeowner keeps their home five years from the last HomeSafe payment, the homeowner will not have to pay back HomeSafe.

Harrison stresses this is not a second mortgage payment, this is free mortgage payment assistance for people who are unemployed, underemployed or face a myriad of other types of financial hardships.

"We only expect a payment from the homeowner if they sell their house before the five years are up," she added.

It's important not to second guess your eligibility, for example, some people leaving the military can get financial help.

"Transitioning to a private life [someone] might not be able to find a job so they get unemployment benefits. They are eligible," she explained.

There is a short quiz on HomeSafe Georgia's website that can help people figure out if they are eligible.

But, Harrison asks all homeowners to give them a call.

Call toll free 877-519-4443 to speak with someone directly about the program.

Email the program at homesafe@dca.ga.gov .

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