A $1 billion program to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages is getting a massive overhaul, potentially opening the door for thousands of previously ineligible Floridians to receive aid.
Since last year, only about 5,500 homeowners have received aid from the Florida Hardest Hit Fund, and thousands of Floridians have been rejected or discouraged from applying due to the program’s strict eligibility rules. Florida Housing Finance Corporation, which runs the program, moved to loosen those rules Friday.
The federally-funded program offers two types of help: Monthly mortgage payment assistance to borrowers suffering from “financial hardship” such as unemployment, and lump sum aid to help borrowers catch up on overdue mortgage bills.
The program was slated to help tens of thousands of homeowners, but so far only about 5,500 have qualified. Only $101.8 million of the $1 billion has been reserved for homeowners so far, and even less than that has actually been paid out. After reviewing the program’s first year performance, FHFC pushed for aggressive changes, including scrapping the 6-month cap on mortgage delinquency (translation: Homeowners who are more than six months behind on their mortgage can qualify).
FHFC also raised limits on how much aid homeowners could receive, doubling aid to unemployed borrowers to $24,000 and tripling mortgage “catch-up” assistance to $25,000.