South Carolina's Hardest Hit Program: SC HELP

South Carolina's SC Help Program previously provided monetary assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure. The program is no longer accepting applications though.

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, South Carolina initially received over $295 million to provide assistance to homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments due to a hardship such as unemployment or medical expenses. Further funding was approved in 2016.

Though the program was initially intended to continue through 2020, SC HELP stopped accepting new applications for assistance in early 2018. Other states have also closed their Hardest Hit Fund programs early when funding ran out but reopened them when more money became available.

Should South Carolina start accepting applications again, here's a rundown of its programs.

South Carolina’s Hardest Hit Fund Program: SC HELP

SC HELP developed four programs to assist responsible South Carolina homeowners having difficulty making their mortgage payments. The maximum amount of assistance available is limited to $36,000 per household. The programs are:

  • Monthly Payment Assistance, which assists eligible homeowners by making their monthly mortgage payments directly to the bank.
  • Direct Loan Assistance, which provides funds to bring the loan current if you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage payments. (For some homeowners, Monthly Payment Assistance might also be available in addition to Direct Loan Assistance.)
  • Transition Assistance, which provides a $5,000 grant to homeowners who are completing a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure to pay the expenses associated with moving to a rental property.
  • Modification/Recast Assistance, which provides a one-time payment to help homeowners qualify for a modification or recast (re-amortization) of a first mortgage.

How SC HELP Works

Mortgage Payment Assistance and Direct Loan Assistance is provided in the form of a 0% interest, nonamortizing forgivable loan secured by a junior lien that is recorded against the property. So long as you continue to reside in the home, the loan is completely forgiven after five or ten years, and the lien will then be released. If you sell the home before the end of five years, you’ll need to repay the outstanding balance from the net proceeds.

Transition assistance is paid directly to the homeowner as a one-time grant.

Eligibility

To be eligible for SC HELP assistance, you must meet all of the below criteria.

  • You are having trouble paying your mortgage due to unemployment, underemployment, loss or drastic reduction of self-employment income, catastrophic health-related expenses, divorce, or death of a spouse.
  • The home is your full-time, primary residence.
  • The original loan amount is not more than $729,750.

Mobile or manufactured homes are eligible for assistance; however, the loan on the property must be secured by a mortgage against the home and the property it sits on. (Learn more about what happens if you are struggling to pay your manufactured home loan.)

You do not have to be behind on your mortgage payments to qualify for assistance under the SC HELP program. On the flip side, if you have received a foreclosure notice or served with foreclosure papers, you might be able to qualify for SC HELP as well. If you're facing a foreclosure, you need to apply as soon as possible so there's sufficient time for your application to be evaluated. (Learn more about the South Carolina foreclosure process.)

Program Exclusion

You are not eligible for assistance from the SC HELP program if you have filed bankruptcy and the bankruptcy is active. If you previously filed bankruptcy and it was dismissed or discharged, then you are eligible to apply for the program.

Servicer Participation

Servicer participation in the SC HELP 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. Learn more about how mortgage servicing works.)

Beware of SC HELP Scams

The SC HELP program is free, 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 about SC HELP or have questions, call 855-435-7472. You can also complete the contact form at www.schelp.gov/About/ContactUs.aspx. You can also find various links and resources to help you avoid a foreclosure on the SC Help website.

If you want to learn more about South Carolina foreclosure procedures or want information about possible defenses to a foreclosure in your situation, consider talking to a foreclosure attorney. If you want to learn more about different alternatives to foreclosure, like loan modifications, short sales, and deeds in lieu of foreclosure, consider talking to a HUD-approved housing counselor.

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