The Hardest Hit Fund - Rhode Island (HHFRI) program provides assistance to homeowners in Rhode Island who have a documented financial hardship and have exhausted all other options to keep up with their mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure. Though the program has stopped accepting applications, read on to learn more about the HHFRI program just in case it receives additional funding to support new applications, as well as find out what else you can do to get help if you are currently facing foreclosure in Rhode Island.
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.
(To learn more about the Hardest Hit Fund and the various state programs funded by it, visit our Hardest Hit Fund topic page.)
Rhode Island was awarded over $79 million in funds through the Hardest Hit Fund to help eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure. (Learn more about the Rhode Island foreclosure process.) To do this, Rhode Island set up the HHFRI program.
The HHFRI Program
Assistance given to homeowners under the HHFRI program varies, but is concentrated in four general areas including:
- helping unemployed homeowners make monthly mortgage payments
- making an immediate property tax payment to save a home from foreclosure
- offering assistance in obtaining a loan modification, and
- providing relocation assistance to those who have determined it is time to leave the home.
Since the program began in December of 2010, over 4,600 Rhode Island homeowners have applied for assistance. Almost 62% of those who completed the application and review process were approved to receive funds. Currently, the program is on track to utilize the entire $79 million allocation from the Hardest Hit Fund. (As of the end of November 2013, Rhode Island has distributed 84% of its designated funds.) As a result, Rhode Island Housing (the administrator of the program) stopped accepting applications as of January 31, 2013.
However, it is possible that additional funds could become available and the program will start back up, so be sure to visit www.HHFRI.org regularly for the latest updates.
What You Can Do If You Need Help Now
Even though the HHFRI program has stopped accepting new applications, struggling Rhode Island homeowners who are facing foreclosure still have several options available to obtain help.
Call Your Mortgage Servicer
You should call your loan servicer if you have missed a payment or are concerned about an imminent foreclosure. (A mortgage servicer is the company that collects and manages your mortgage payments.) This way you can be evaluated immediately for an alternative to foreclosure.
See Nolo’s Alternatives to Foreclosure section to learn about different loss mitigation options.
To find your mortgage servicer’s phone number, look on your monthly mortgage billing statement or your payment coupon book. You can also search on the Internet. Most mortgage servicers have a prominent link on their home page for homeowners who are concerned about foreclosure so they can easily obtain information about how to obtain assistance.
You can also find the contact information for a few local Rhode Island lenders by going to www.hhfri.org and clicking on “Lender Information.”
Seek Help From a HUD-Approved and HHFRI-Certified Housing Counselor
A housing counselor can help you figure out if you qualify for a foreclosure avoidance program, such as those under the federal government’s Making Home Affordable initiative, like the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). (To learn about HAMP and other government programs for distressed homeowners, visit Nolo's Government Foreclosure Prevention Programs area.)
Counselors can provide an overview of program guidelines, timelines, and requirements, as well as recommend a course of action that is most appropriate for your unique situation. If you are having trouble getting a response from your servicer regarding loss mitigation and foreclosure avoidance options, a housing counselor may be able to help you with that as well.
To find a list of HUD-approved and HHFRI-certified counseling agencies, go to www.hhfri.org and click on “HUD Approved and HHFRI Certified Counselors.”
Call the Rhode Island Housing HelpCenter
For advice and education about protecting yourself from foreclosure or coping with the loss of your home, call the Rhode Island Housing HelpCenter at 401-457-1130 or email email@example.com. Counselors are trained to assess your situation and help find the best options for you.
You can also go to www.rhodeislandhousing.org and click on “Get out of housing trouble” and then select “HelpCenter” to find useful information, including links such as:
• "Tips for Avoiding Foreclosure"
• "Guidelines for Prioritizing Debt"
• "Tips for Improving Your Credit," and
• "Frequently Asked Foreclosure Questions."
Participate in Foreclosure Mediation
If you live in Providence, Cranston, Warwick, or Warren, you may be able to participate in foreclosure mediation where you’ll meet with your mortgage servicer to discuss alternatives to foreclosure.
Hire an Attorney
If you want to challenge a foreclosure action, you should speak to a qualified attorney who can advise you what defenses are available for your particular situation. Mortgage servicing records can be difficult to interpret and reconcile, so be sure the attorney is familiar with how to read loan servicing communication logs and payment histories.
For more information on challenging a foreclosure in court, see our Fighting Foreclosure in Court area.