Ohio's Hardest Hit Program: Save the Dream Ohio

Ohio's Save the Dream Ohio program helps struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure or ease the transition in a short-sale or deed-in-lieu.

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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 the 18 states most affected by the housing market crash. As part of this program, Ohio received over $570 million to provide assistance to distressed homeowners facing foreclosure. If you aren’t familiar with the Save the Dream Ohio program, keep reading. This program could help you or someone you know.

(To learn more about the Hardest Hit Fund and the various state programs funded by it, visit our Hardest Hit Fund topic page. For articles on foreclosure procedures in Ohio and other ways to get help, visit our Ohio Foreclosure Law Center.)

About Save the Dream Ohio

The Save the Dream Ohio program is designed to help homeowners stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure, though it can also help you if you've decided to complete a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure. As of March 31, 2013, there are 10,115 homeowners that have received help from this initiative. Among the 18 states participating in the Hardest Hit Fund program, Ohio ranks third in terms of funds distributed with almost $121 million given out.

Available Assistance Programs

Struggling homeowners may receive assistance from one or more of the following Save the Dream Ohio programs:

  • The Rescue Payment Assistance program, which provides a one-time payment up to $25,000 to a mortgage servicer to bring the first mortgage current.
  • The Mortgage Payment Assistance program, which provides a year and a half (18 months) of full mortgage payments, up to $22,000, for unemployed or underemployed homeowners.
  • The Modification with Contribution Assistance program, which provides a one-time payment of up to $25,000 to reduce the principal balance on a homeowner's mortgage in connection with a loan modification. (Funds can also be used to pay delinquent mortgage payments, fees, or property taxes.)
  • The Lien Elimination Assistance program, which provides a one-time payment up to $25,000 to pay off a first mortgage lien.
  • The Homeowner Retention Assistance program, which provides up to $25,000 to reduce or pay off a delinquent second mortgage, property taxes, late fees, and association fees.
  • The Transition Assistance program, which provides up to $7,500 to homeowners who are completing a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure to pay relocation expenses and eliminate liens. (See our Short Sales and Deeds in Lieu of Foreclosure area for more information on these topics.)

Homeowners may qualify for as much as $35,000 if participating in more than one program.

How the Programs Work

Assistance for all Save the Dream Ohio programs, except Transition Assistance, is provided in the form of a 0% interest, non-amortizing, forgivable loan secured by a junior mortgage that is recorded against your property. The mortgage balance is forgiven over a five-year period at 20% per year. At the end of five years, the loan is totally forgiven.

If you sell or refinance your home before the five years is up, you must repay any outstanding portion of the loan, but only if there are proceeds from the sale or refinance.

Borrower Eligibility

To be eligible for Save the Dream Ohio assistance, you must meet the below general criteria.

  • Your total household income is $112,375 or less.
  • You have experienced an involuntary loss of income of at least 10% of your gross household income through no fault of your own (meaning a job layoff, reduction in wages, death of a spouse, divorce, disability, injury, or business failure) or incurred significant medical expenses of at least 7.5% of your gross annual household income.

Home Eligibility Criteria

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

  • The property is in Ohio.
  • The home is your primary residence.
  • The propertyis a single-family home, a condominium, or a one-to-four unit dwelling.
  • The outstanding principal balance does not exceed $432,500.

Manufactured homes are eligible for assistance if titled as real estate. Learn more about what happens if you are struggling to pay your manufactured home loan.

Program Exclusions

You are not eligible for assistance through the Save the Dream Ohio 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 including larceny, theft, fraud, forgery, money laundering, or tax evasion in the last ten years.

Servicer Participation

Servicer participation in the Save the Dream Ohio 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.)

To find out if your mortgage servicer is participating in the program, go to www.savethedream.ohio.gov, then click on “Learn More” and “Servicer List.”

How to Apply

To apply for assistance, go to www.savethedream.ohio.gov, and then click on “Am I Eligible?” and “Prescreen Application Questionnaire.”

Once you’ve answered the screening questions and have been deemed eligible for the program, you’ll receive a pre-approval referral code that you can use to register online. (You can begin the online registration process immediately after obtaining the referral code by clicking the “Click Here” button or by going to www.restoringstability.org and clicking on “Start Now.” Or you can call Save the Dream Ohio at 888-404-4674 to apply over the phone.)

The application requires:

  • homeowner information
  • contact information
  • property information
  • mortgage information
  • a financial worksheet, and
  • hardship information.

For a complete list of the documents you will need to submit along with the application, go to www.savethedream.ohio.gov, click on “What to Expect” and then “Document Checklist.”

You will be assigned to a housing counseling agency that will work with you to complete the application process. Your housing counselor will write an action plan and submit your application to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), which is the administrator of the program, for review.

If you are approved for assistance, OHFA will then request approval from your mortgage servicer. If approved, OHFA will schedule a closing when you will sign documents for the forgivable loan (though this step is not applicable to the Transition Assistance program).

For More Information

If you would like more information or if you have questions about the various types of assistance available from the Save the Dream Ohio program, you can:

by: , Contributing Editor

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