The Hardest Hit Alabama program, which is funded through the federal Hardest Hit Fund, provides mortgage payment assistance to unemployed homeowners. Keep reading to get an overview of the program, learn how much assistance is available, and find out if you are eligible.
Hardest Hit Fund
In 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury created the Hardest Hit Fund to provide targeted aid to homeowners in those states most affected by the housing market crash. As part of this program, $7.6 billion in aid was allocated to the 18 states, along with Washington, D.C., that experienced the most extreme home price declines and high unemployment rates as a result of the economic crisis. (Learn more about the Hardest Hit Fund.)
Alabama was awarded $162 million in funds through the Hardest Hit Fund to help eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure. (Learn more about the Alabama foreclosure process.) To do this, Alabama set up the Hardest Hit Alabama (HHA) program.
As of the end of November 2013, Alabama's Hardest Hit Fund has distributed 21% of its designated funds.
The Hardest Hit Alabama Program
Unemployed homeowners who have fallen behind in their mortgage payments can use HHA funds to bring their loan current and cover future mortgage payments.
The program will advance an initial payment of up to $12,500 to pay past-due amounts (that is, to "reinstate" your mortgage). The program also provides mortgage payment assistance. (The total amount of program assistance you receive cannot exceed $25,000.)
How the Program Works
HHA assistance is provided in the form of a forgivable, 0% interest, junior mortgage recorded against the property. You only need to repay the loan or a portion of it if one of the following occurs:
- You no longer occupy the property as your primary residence.
- You sell the property and there is enough equity to pay all or a part of the unforgiven balance.
- Mortgage fraud is discovered.
Borrower Eligibility for HHA
To be eligible for HHA assistance, you must meet all of the below criteria.
- You are currently receiving state-administered unemployment benefits (or have experienced a substantial reduction in household income).
- Your household income does not exceed $77,560 (including all income of occupants 18 years or older).
- You occupy the residence as your principal residence.
Home Eligibility Criteria for HHA
Additionally, your existing mortgages and the property securing the mortgages must meet the below criteria.
- The property is located in Alabama.
- Your mortgage balance is no more than $258,690.
Manufactured homes are eligible for HHA assistance if the manufactured housing is attached to the real property. Learn more about what happens if you are struggling to pay your mobile home loan.
Second homes and vacation homes are not eligible for this program.
Mortgage Servicer Participation
Mortgage servicer participation in this program is voluntary. (A mortgage servicer is the company that collects monthly mortgage payments from borrowers on behalf of the owner of the loan, as well as tracks account balances, manages the escrow account, handles loss mitigation applications, and pursues foreclosure in the case of defaulted loans.)
Ultimately, it is up to your mortgage servicer to decide if your loan qualifies for participation in the program. To find out if your servicer is part of the HHA program, go to www.hardesthitalabama.com/participating_servicers.html.
How to Apply
To apply for assistance, go to www.hardesthitalabama.com and click on “Apply Now” to complete the online application. Have the following information available:
- Your mortgage loan information. (You can find the relevant information on the payment coupon that your mortgage servicer sends you each month.)
- Information about your unemployment compensation.
- Your financial information (such as bank statements, pay stubs for any occupants 18 years or older, etc.)
Beware of HHA Scams
There have been some reports of Alabama citizens being contacted with an offer to help with the HHA application for a fee. The HHA program is free and you should not pay for any services associated with applying for assistance.