Homeowner Assistance Program Falls Short of Goals

The US Treasury announced Monday that the Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program has ended, after coming nowhere near reaching its goals. The program was funded with $1 billion, with the intention of helping as many as 30,000 homeowners by providing forgivable loans of $50,000 to help temporarily help unemployed and underemployed people in 32 states and Puerto Rico avoid foreclosure.

Of approximately 100,000 applicants to the program, only 11,832 were reportedly approved, and a little less than half, $432 million, of the program’s allotted funds were dispersed. The remaining funds will be returned to the US Treasury. An official from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), who oversaw the program, said that the actual amount of assistance for those who qualified will average between $35,000 and $45,000.

Louis Finfer, who serves as the executive director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, called the program’s failure to reach or process enough applicants “sad and shameful.” Finfer’s organization was instrumental in getting the legislation passed that created the program. HUD has taken extensive criticism for taking too long to launch the program, as it only began taking applications in June, a full year after the bill created it. With the deadline for homeowners to apply set on September 30th, participants had just three months to apply.