Georgia's Hardest Hit Program: HomeSafe Georgia

HomeSafe Georgia is funded by the federal Hardest Hit Fund and provides mortgage assistance.

HomeSafe Georgia, which is funded through the federal Hardest Hit Fund, offers certain types of assistance to eligible homeowners. A few of the HomeSafe Georgia programs are no longer accepting applications as of October 2017, but others are still in effect. Keep reading to get an overview of the programs, find out which programs are still open to applicants, learn how much assistance is available, and find out if you are eligible.

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.

Georgia was awarded over $339 million in funds through the Hardest Hit Fund (and additional funding was approved in 2016) to help eligible homeowners avoid foreclosure. (Learn more about the Georgia foreclosure process.) To do this, Georgia set up the HomeSafe Georgia program.

HomeSafe Georgia

There are several types of mortgage assistance available under the HomeSafe Georgia program:

  • The Mortgage Payment Assistance program, which provides monthly mortgage payments for those who are currently unemployed or underemployed.
  • The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance program, which provides funds to reinstate a loan to those who have suffered a military, medical, or death-related hardship in the last 36 months.
  • The Mortgage Payment Reduction program, which has two sub-programs: Underwater Georgia and Mortgage Payment Reduction.

Mortgage Payment Assistance Program

As of October 2017, this program is closed to new applicants. But programs sometimes receive additional funding and re-open. (This has happened in other states.) It's a good idea to periodically check the HomeSafe Georgia website to see if the program's status has changed.

Reinstatement Assistance Program

As of October 2017, this program is closed to new applicants. But programs sometimes receive additional funding and re-open. (This has happened in other states.) It's a good idea to periodically check the HomeSafe Georgia website to see if the program's status has changed.

Mortgage Principal Reduction Program: Underwater Georgia and Mortgage Payment Reduction

The Mortgage Principal Reduction Program offers two options: Underwater Georgia and Mortgage Payment Reduction.

Underwater Georgia

Underwater Georgia is a limited-time program for eligible homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth (their homes are "underwater") through a one-time principal reduction of up to $50,000 sent directly to the lender.

Eligibility criteria. To find out the eligibility requirements for this program, go to the HomeSafe Georgia website.

Mortgage Principal Reduction

The Mortgage Payment Reduction program provides a one-time payment of up to $50,000 directly to the lender for homeowners who have suffered a permanent loss of income in the last four calendar years. The loan is then recast or modified, which lowers the monthly mortgage payment.

Eligibility criteria. To find out the eligibility requirements for this program, go to the HomeSafe Georgia website.

HomeSafe Georgia Servicer Participation

Servicer participation in the programs 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 servicer is part of HomeSafe Georgia, go to www.homesafegeorgia.com/spv-66.aspx and select “Click Here for Participating Lenders.” If your lender isn't listed, it's a good idea to check with the servicer directly just to be sure that the list is accurate.

How to Apply for HomeSafe Georgia Program

To learn more about the application process and apply for one of the open programs, go to the HomeSafe Georgia website.

Issues With the HomeSafe Georgia Program

Unfortunately, the programs associated with HomeSafe Georgia have reportedly been so mismanaged that only a portion of the millions of dollars that were supposed to help Georgia residents avoid foreclosure has been used for that purpose.

An audit found that HomeSafe Georgia denied assistance to two thirds of applicants, which is one of the highest rejection rates among all of the state Hardest Hit Fund programs. In addition, other problems included: the official HomeSafe website contained some inaccurate information about eligibility criteria, the customer service line tended to hang up callers, and applicants had too little time to obtain supporting documentation for their application from their mortgage servicer and the IRS. Some changes have since been made to the program, though, like giving applicants more time to get documentation.

As of October 2017, the program has only spent less than half of its funds and committed three fourths of its funding, which means assistance is still available. Even though acceptance rates are low, if you think you might qualify, it's a good idea to apply while funds are still available.

Beware of Scams

The HomeSafe Georgia program is free of charge and you should not pay for any services associated with applying for assistance. Do not pay any company that promises to expedite your application or guarantees approval.

For More Information

If you would like more information, you can call the customer service help line at 877-519-4443, which is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except holidays). You can also send an email to homesafe@dca.ga.gov.

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