The Florida Hardest-Hit Fund program currently provides temporary mortgage payment and reinstatement assistance to eligible homeowners. Keep reading to get an overview of Florida's Hardest-Hit Fund program, learn how much assistance is available, and find out if you are eligible.
(To learn about foreclosure procedures in Florida, and programs to assist Florida homeowners, visit Nolo's Florida Foreclosure Law Center.)
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, DC, 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.)
Florida was awarded over $1 billion in funds through the Hardest Hit Fund (and additional funding was approved in 2016) to help eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure. (Learn more about the Florida foreclosure process.) To do this, Florida set up its own Hardest-Hit Fund (HHF).
Unemployed and underemployed homeowners (or those who have had at least a 10% reduction of income due to a qualifying financial hardship) who have fallen behind in their mortgage payments can use HHF funds to bring their loan current and/or cover future mortgage payments.
There are two programs currently available under Florida’s HHF program.
UMAP/MLRP assistance is provided in the form of a 0% interest, deferred-payment loan secured by a junior lien that is recorded against the property. The loan is forgiven over a five-year period at 20% per year starting 18 months after acceptance into the program. You need to repay the loan only if:
To be eligible for Florida HHF assistance, you must meet all of the below criteria.
Homeowners who have $5,000 (or an amount equal to or more than three times the total monthly mortgage payment including taxes and insurance) in assets must first use those assets toward mortgage payments or other existing debt before being eligible for UMAP/MLRP funds.
Additionally, your existing mortgage and the property securing the mortgage must meet the below criteria.
Mobile or manufactured homes are eligible for assistance if on a foundation permanently affixed to real estate that is owned by the homeowners. Learn more about what happens if you are struggling to pay your mobile home loan.
You are not eligible for assistance through the Florida HHF program if one of the below conditions applies to you.
Also, if there is current pending litigation on your primary residence mortgage, up to and including foreclosure proceedings, with the mortgage lender, servicer, or other parties, then the servicer may choose not to accept UMAP/MLRP payments on your behalf.
UMAP provides up to 12 months of payments with a cap of $24,000 (whichever occurs first) to assist unemployed or underemployed borrowers (and those who experienced a qualifying hardship) with their first mortgage payments until they can resume full payments on their own.
The program will also advance up to $18,000 to reinstate a delinquent first mortgage before UMAP payments begin.
Assistance under the MLRP Program consists of a one-time payment to bring a delinquent mortgage current for a homeowner who has experienced and recovered from a qualifying financial hardship.
Up to $25,000 is available under the MLRP Program.
Servicer participation in Florida’s HHF 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.)
Go to www.FLHardestHitHelp.org and click on “Start Now” to fill out an online form to create a profile and begin the application process.
There are a number of websites on the Internet purporting to be Hardest-Hit Fund application sites that may ask you to pay for an eligibility determination in conjunction with applying for the Florida HHF.
Applying for and participating in Florida’s HHF program is free of charge and you should not pay for any services associated with applying for assistance. If you are worried that you are applying (or have already applied) for the program through a website that may not be legitimate, contact the HHF Information Line toll-free at 877-863-5244 to verify the website address.
If you have any questions, would like additional information, or want to report a scam, go to www.FLHardestHitHelp.org.