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Help and Hope is Available for Underwater Homeowners in Florida Through Foreclosure Prevention Programs

St. Johns Housing Partnership saves thirteen Florida homeowners $617,000 in one week with federally funded program providing free foreclosure help.

St. Johns Housing Partnership,Inc (SJHP), in partnership with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, provided much-needed mortgage assistance last week to 13 families, saving them a collective total of $617,000 in mortgage relief. The foreclosure process in Florida is complicated and SJHP’s foreclosure prevention programs are a valuable tool for confused homeowners.

This program assists eligible homeowners who have remained current on their payments and who owe at least 125% more on their home than its current market value, commonly referred to as the home being “underwater”. Up to $50,000 in assistance is provided to reduce the principal balance of the first mortgage, bringing the loan-to-value to no less than 100%. Among other stringent requirements, the home must be the primary residence and the homeowner’s income has to fall below 140% AMI, adjusted for household size.

St. Johns Housing Partnership offers free foreclosure prevention workshops, explaining the various federally, state and locally funded options and programs available to the homeowner for their individual situation. Based on the homeowner’s documentation and an individual counseling session, the housing counselor then develops an action plan structured for their current housing situation. All programs provided through SJHP are offered at no cost to the homeowner.

A client recently said, “I thought many times about walking away from my house. But now that I am no longer underwater, I will stay in my home, put on a new roof and even make some improvements. That’s what this whole program is about.”

What is good for the homeowner is also good for the community. A healthy housing market is essential to a thriving economy and keeping homeowners in their home with the ability to make their monthly mortgage payment is beneficial and needed to continue to improve the housing market. Underwater homes often go into foreclosure and ownership of the property reverts to the bank that holds the mortgage. As the bank does not want to hold the home, they frequently sell it well below market value, causing nearby properties to drop in value, continuing to create an additional drain on the economy, perpetuating the housing crisis cycle.

According to a report released by RealtyTrac in December, foreclosure filings in Florida declined by 23% in November 2013 compared to a year-over-year comparison. However, Florida still has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country with one filing for every 392 housing units.

SJHP has the ability and resources to help residents make informed decisions concerning their particular housing situation and provide the expertise necessary to wade through the process toward resolution. Many families are struggling with a mortgage in crisis but are not aware of the assistance available through St. Johns Housing Partnership, a non-profit HUD certified agency located in St. Johns County. SJHP offers a wide range of programs and assistance for Floridians struggling with the foreclosure process.

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