August 04, 2010
South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority
[Columbia, SC] Officials at the US Department of Treasury (Treasury) yesterday approved the proposal of the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority (SC State Housing) for administration and distribution of $138 million to help the state’s “hardest hit” homeowners. South Carolina joins the ranks of nine other economically distressed states trying to help homeowners facing the possibility of foreclosure due to circumstances beyond their control.
Though this approval is a major step toward making these funds available to struggling homeowners, SC State Housing must complete the development and implementation of policies and procedures for distributing the assistance. SC State Housing anticipates beginning to accept applications both online and by telephone by early October. Next steps include putting infrastructure in place to handle application intake, evaluation and closing.
SC State Housing staff have been working closely with Treasury since learning that the Palmetto State was one of the designees for the second round of the Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund’s Hardest Hit Housing Markets (or “HFA Hardest Hit Fund”).
In South Carolina this program will be known as the SC Homeownership and Employment Lending Program (SC HELP).
Key components for the South Carolina plan include:
- Monthly Payment Assistance-assisting homeowners with monthly payments for a defined period of time while they seek employment and a return to self sustainability.
· Direct Loan Assistance-for borrowers who have experienced a hardship but have regained the ability to pay. Funds can be used to pay arrearages, late charges, and reduce principal.
· HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) Assistance-provide funds to servicers to assist in making borrowers HAMP-eligible.
· Second Mortgage Assistance-when a second lien is preventing a modification under HAMP, funds may be available to incentivize the lender or to acquire the lien, allowing the modification to proceed.
· Property Disposition Assistance-in cases where the mortgage cannot be salvaged, funds may be provided to incentivize short sales, deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure and to help transition families from homeownership to rental housing.
SC State Housing wants to make clear that these funds will go to assist “responsible borrowers.” These are homeowners who find themselves in default or foreclosure due to circumstances beyond their control. This includes job loss, underemployment (job loss followed by reemployment at substantially lower income), death of a spouse, divorce or extensive medical expenses – circumstances that could confront and overwhelm anyone, despite their efforts to be frugal and to budget responsibly.
Borrowers who have demonstrated poor or irresponsible credit and debt management, mismanagement of personal budgeting, or stripping of equity from their home for non-essential purposes will not be eligible for assistance.
SC State Housing originally conceived a much broader program, focusing on returning unemployed and underemployed citizens to gainful employment. This reflects in the name of the program, SC HELP, in which employment is seen as a key component of recovery efforts. As Treasury issued new guidance and directives, it became apparent that these programs would not meet Treasury’s interpretations of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) guidelines. SC State Housing has outlined these plans in its proposal and asked that Treasury consider any and all alternatives that may allow these initiatives to be included now or at a later date.
Additional information, background and resources are now posted on SC State Housing’s website as well as www.SCMortgageHelp.com and will be updated frequently.