Florida's Hardest Hit Fund Program

The Florida Hardest-Hit Fund program provides temporary mortgage payment and reinstatement assistance to unemployed and underemployed homeowners.

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.)

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, 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 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).

As of October 2015, Florida still has distributed only about half of its funds.

The Florida Hardest-Hit Fund

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.

  • the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMAP) and
  • the Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment (MLRP) Program.

How the Program Works

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:

  • you sell your home prior to the end of the loan period and there are sufficient proceeds from the sale to pay all superior secured loans, or
  • you refinance the first mortgage loan to consolidate debt or receive cash out.

Borrower Eligibility

To be eligible for Florida HHF assistance, you must meet all of the below criteria.

  • You are a Florida resident and a legal US resident/legal alien.
  • You have experienced a financial hardship, which resulted in at least a 10% reduction in income.
  • Your total household income is below 140% of the area median income as provided by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (“Total household income” means all income for persons living in the home who are age 18 years and older.)
  • You meet program underwriting guidelines.
  • The combined monthly cost of principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and homeowners' association dues, if any, of all secured mortgages must be greater than 31% of your total household’s gross income after the financial hardship event.

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.

Home Eligibility Criteria for UMAP/MLRP

Additionally, your existing mortgage and the property securing the mortgage must meet the below criteria.

  • The property is located in Florida.
  • You occupy the property as your primary residence.
  • The property is a single-family home, a condominium, a townhome, or a one-to-four unit dwelling of which one unit is occupied by the borrower as a primary residence.
  • The property is not abandoned, vacant, or condemned.
  • The outstanding principal balance on the first mortgage does not exceed $400,000.

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.

Program Exclusions

You are not eligible for assistance through the Florida HHF program if one of the below conditions applies to you.

  • You filed bankruptcy and the bankruptcy is active. (If you previously filed bankruptcy and it was dismissed or you received a discharge, then you are eligible to apply for the program.)
  • You have been convicted of a mortgage-related felony in the last ten years.
  • A subordinate lender or other entitly has started a foreclosure claim on the property.
  • The first mortgage is with a regulated financial institution, Habitat, or USDA.
  • You are participating in a HAMP Trial Modification.

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.

Program Details: Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMAP)

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.

Program Details: Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment (MLRP) Program

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.

HHF Servicer Participation

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.)

How to Apply

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.

Beware of Scams

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.

For More Information

If you have any questions, would like additional information, or want to report a scam, go to www.FLHardestHitHelp.org.

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