The Save Our Home AZ program, which is funded through the Hardest Hit Fund, provides Arizona homeowners with monetary assistance to cover mortgage principal reductions, make monthly mortgage payments, settle a second mortgage, and transition to new housing after completing a short sale. 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.)
Arizona was awarded over $267 million through the Hardest Hit Fund to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. (Learn more about the Arizona foreclosure process.) To do this, Arizona set up the Save Our Home AZ program.
Save Our Home AZ
Through the Save Our Home AZ program, Arizona homeowners can receive funds to:
- reduce the principal balance of their mortgage (in conjunction with a loan modification or HARP 2.0 refinance)
- make monthly mortgage payments
- reinstate a delinquent mortgage
- settle a second mortgage, and/or
- transition to new housing after a short sale.
There is an overall assistance limit of $100,000 per household.
To be eligible for Save Our Home AZ assistance, you must meet all of the below criteria.
- Your household gross income is no more than 150% of the area median income for the county in which the property is located. (For example, the income limit is $99,563 in Maricopa County for a family of four. To find out the income limits in your county, go to www.azhousing.gov and click on “Program Fact Sheet.”)
- You are no less than 30 days from the Trustee Sale date.
- You are able to document a 10% or greater reduction of income. (Not applicable to those seeking assistance in conjunction with a HARP 2.0 refinance.)
- You are two months behind in payments or current on your mortgage payments with no more than three months of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) in liquid assets. (Not applicable to those seeking assistance in conjunction with a HARP 2.0 refinance.)
- Your current mortgage payment is equal to or greater than 31% of your gross, pre-tax monthly income. (Not applicable to those seeking assistance in conjunction with a HARP 2.0 refinance.)
Home Eligibility Criteria for Save Our Home AZ
Additionally, your existing mortgage and the property securing the mortgage must meet the below criteria.
- The property is in Arizona.
- The home is owner-occupied as a primary residence.
- The home is a single-family residence, one-to-four unit dwelling, condominium, or townhome.
- Your first mortgage does not exceed $729,750.
Based on these strict eligibility requirements, it is not easy to qualify for assistance. As of the end of November 2013, Arizona has distributed only 34% of its designated funds.
Program Details: Principal Reduction Assistance
Arizona homeowners who are completing permanent loan modifications or HARP 2.0 refinances may be eligible for a principal reduction through Save Our Home AZ.
Additional criteria. Your mortgage balance must be greater than 120% of the property’s fair market value (prior to the loan modification or refinance) in order to qualify.
To learn more about loan modifications, visit our Alternatives to Foreclosure area.
To learn about HARP 2.0 and other government programs for distressed homeowners, visit Nolo’s Government Foreclosure Prevention Programs area.
Program Details: Second Mortgage Settlements
If you have a second mortgage on your property, you may be able to obtain assistance to pay off the second lien. You can receive up to 40% of the outstanding loan balance, with maximum assistance in the amount of:
- $16,500 or
- $8,500 (when combined with short sale assistance).
Additional criteria. The mortgage balance of the first and second lien combined must be greater than 120% of the property’s fair market value (prior to assistance).
Program Details: Unemployment/Underemployment Assistance
If you are unemployed or underemployed, you can obtain assistance to bring your loan current, as well as cover future mortgage payments. Previously, the maximum amount of assistance was $2,000 per month for up to two years ($48,000 maximum). Recently, Arizona created a waiver allowing homeowners to receive assistance that exceeds the $2,000 per month cap, but the maximum assistance still can’t exceed $48,000.
Reinstatement assistance is available to help you catch up on past due amounts, including PITI, late fees, and any legal costs/fees. However, if you use program funds to reinstate the loan, then future monthly assistance is limited to 12 months and will be reduced by the number of delinquent months reinstated.
Additional criteria. Borrowers with a source of income (other than unemployment benefits) must contribute 31% of their earnings toward the monthly mortgage payment.
Program Details: Short Sale Assistance
Homeowners who are undergoing a short sale can receive funds to help transition to new housing, pay off a second mortgage, and help with closing costs. (See our Short Sales and Deeds in Lieu of Foreclosure area for more information about short sales.)
You may receive up to $4,500 in transition assistance to pay for things like moving expenses, rent, or a security deposit, as well as a maximum of 3% of the sales price for buyer’s closing costs paid on behalf of the seller. You can also receive assistance to settle a second mortgage up to $8,500 or 40% of the outstanding loan balance.
The total amount of assistance is limited to $25,000.
Additional criteria. The property cannot have an outstanding mortgage in excess of 150% of purchase price.
How Save Our Home AZ Works
Most Save Our Home AZ assistance is provided in the form of an interest-free loan. The loan is forgiven at the end of the term and upon successful completion of the program. HARP 2.0 assistance and short sale assistance, however, is provided as a grant.
Servicer participation in Save Our Home AZ 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.)
To find out if your servicer is part of the Save Our Home AZ, you’ll need to first fill out an application for assistance.
How to Apply
To apply, go to www.azhousing.gov and click on the “Self-Assessment & On-Line Application” button to fill out an online form. A housing counselor will contact you within seven days.
If you want to complete the application over the phone, call the Arizona Foreclosure Help Line at 877-448-1211.
Arizona Has Hardly Used Any of Its Allocated Funds
Due to the program's strict eligibility requirements, it is not easy to qualify for assistance. As of July 2013, the state has distributed just 6% of the available funds to struggling homeowners. (Since June 2011, the program has denied funds to two out of every three applicants, whereas most other states with Hardest Hit programs denied around 11%-40% of applications.)
For More Information
Go to www.azhousing.gov or call the Arizona Foreclosure Help Line at 1-877-448-1211 for more information. Free housing counseling is also available.