Mississippi's Hardest Hit Fund: Home Saver

The Mississippi Home Saver program provides monetary assistance to struggling homeowners who are unemployed, underemployed, or in a community or four-year college.

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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, Mississippi received over $101 million to provide assistance to unemployed and underemployed homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments. Read on to learn about the different types of help available through Mississippi’s Hardest Hit Fund program, called Home Saver, and find out if you may be eligible for assistance.

(To learn more about the Hardest Hit Fund and the various state programs funded by it, visit our Hardest Hit Fund topic page.)

Mississippi’s Hardest Hit Fund Program: Home Saver

Home Saver has three programs to assist homeowners who lost their job or experienced a reduction in income through no fault of their own. The programs are:

  • The Mortgage Payment Assistance program, which provides mortgage payment assistance to unemployed and underemployed homeowners, as well as helps reinstate a delinquent loan.
  • The Mortgage Payment Assistance with Education program, which provides several extra months of mortgage payment assistance to homeowners who enroll in a community college or four-year institution at their own expense.
  • The Reinstatement Only program, which helps re-employed homeowners who previously fell behind on their mortgage payments due to unemployment or underemployment catch up.

How Home Saver Works

Assistance is provided in the form of a non-recourse, 0% interest, non-amortizing forgivable loan secured by a junior lien that is recorded against the property. No payments are required from the homeowner and the loan is forgiven at 20% per year. After five years, the lien will be released.

You only need to repay the loan if you have sufficient equity and you sell the property or refinance during the five-year loan term.

Borrower Eligibility

To be eligible for Home Saver assistance, you must meet all of the below criteria.

  • You are a Mississippi resident and a legal U.S. citizen.
  • You occupy the property as your primary residence.
  • You have suffered a hardship due to involuntary job loss or income reduction of at least 15%. (If you are active military, any reduction in income will qualify.)
  • Your hardship occurred after you purchased the home.

Home Eligibility Criteria

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

  • The property is located in Mississippi.
  • The property is a single-family home, condominium, or a one-to-five unit dwelling (if you occupy one unit as your primary residence).
  • The unpaid principal balance is not more than $271,000.

Mobile or manufactured homes are eligible if on a foundation that is permanently affixed to real estate owned by the applicant and taxed as real property. Learn more about what happens if you are struggling to pay your mobile home loan.

Program Exclusions

You are not eligible for the Home Saver 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 discharged, then you are also eligible to apply for the program.)
  • You are disabled and permanently unable to work.
  • Your hardship is something other than involuntary job loss or an income reduction. (Hardships such as death of a spouse, catastrophic medical expenses, or a divorce do not qualify.)
  • You have an interest-only or negative amortization loan.
  • A foreclosure sale date has been set. (Learn more about the Mississippi foreclosure process.)

Servicer Participation

Servicer participation in the 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.) All assistance funds are sent directly to the servicer on behalf of the homeowner so your servicer must agree to accept the funds.

Program Details: Mortgage Payment Assistance

This program provides 100% of the monthly mortgage payment for unemployed or underemployed homeowners for a minimum of six months and up to 12 months while the homeowner seeks work.

If you are delinquent on your mortgage, the program will make a one-time payment of all past-due amounts (including fees and penalties accumulated during a period of unemployment or underemployment) to bring the mortgage current and reinstate the loan.

Additional criteria. If unemployed, you must be currently receiving unemployment benefits, eligible to receive unemployment benefits, or have exhausted your unemployment benefits.

The maximum amount of assistance is $50,000.

Program Details: Mortgage Payment Assistance With Education

If the homeowner attends a community college or four-year institution at his/her own expense, this program provides 100% of the monthly mortgage payment for:

  • a minimum of six months and up to 12 months while the homeowner is in school
  • 12 additional months if the homeowner’s education plan takes longer than 12 months, and
  • six additional months if the home is located in a distressed county. (To find out if you live in one of the 65 counties designated as “distressed,” go to www.mshomesaver.com/about-us and click on the link at the bottom of the page.)

Also, if you are delinquent on your mortgage, the program will make a one-time payment of all past-due amounts (including fees and penalties accumulated during a period of unemployment or underemployment) to bring the mortgage current and reinstate the loan.

The maximum amount of assistance is $50,000.

Program Details: Reinstatement Only

This program is designed to help homeowners who fell behind on mortgage payments while they were unemployed or underemployed (and as a result are facing foreclosure), but are now re-employed. The program will pay the past-due amounts that accumulated and bring the loan current.

Additional criteria. You must have returned to work and be able to sustain the mortgage from now on with a mortgage debt-to-income ratio of 35% or below.

The maximum amount of assistance is $50,000.

How to Apply

Go to www.mshomesaver.com and click on “Apply Online” to create a profile. (For a complete list of documents you’ll need to complete the application, take a look at the right-hand side of www.mshomesaver.com.)

After you have submitted your application, a housing counselor will contact you to help you finalize the application and submit it to the program. If you’re already working with a counselor, you should contact that counselor to discuss the Home Saver program before submitting your application.

Funds Are Still Available

According to an April 3, 2013 press release by the Mississippi Home Corporation (the administrator of the program), the Home Saver program has distributed more than $20 million in assistance to over 1,200 homeowners since its inception.

Approximately $67 million is still available to help Mississippi homeowners.

For More Information

If you would like more information about Home Saver, call the toll-free 211 service.

by: , Contributing Editor

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