Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program is back

Each year, thousands of Pennsylvania families are faced with the prospect of losing their homes through mortgage foreclosure. Thankfully, families currently facing foreclosure can find hope in the resumption of Pennsylvania's Homeowners' Emergency Assistance Program, often referred to as HEMAP.

In June 2012, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law the Homeowner Assistance Settlement Act. The law allocates the bulk of the money Pennsylvania will receive from a $25 billion multistate settlement reached between the U.S. attorney general and the leading mortgage servicing companies to funding HEMAP. HEMAP, which has been around since 1983 and has provided assistance to as many as 47,000 homeowners, was discontinued in 2011 due to budget cuts.

How can HEMAP help struggling homeowners?

HEMAP is a loan program aimed at reducing homelessness in Pennsylvania and is administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency or PHFA. HEMAP participants must pay up to 25 percent of their net monthly incomes toward the cost of their housing each month for each mortgage assisted, but the benefits far outweigh this cost.

With the help of HEMAP, approved homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgages can obtain loans that are limited to a maximum amount of $60,000 or a length of 24 or 36 months from the date of mortgage delinquency, whichever comes first. A homeowner may qualify for either a non-continuing mortgage assistance loan, in which a homeowner's mortgage is brought current up to a certain date after which the homeowner is responsible for making all payments, or a continuing mortgage assistance loan, in which the homeowner's mortgage is brought current and subsequent payments are subsidized by HEMAP.

The effort to resume HEMAP received an overwhelming amount of support from legislators, as shown by the fact that the Homeowner Assistance Settlement Act was approved by unanimous votes in both the Pennsylvania House and Senate.

Notice requirements

In addition to bringing HEMAP back, the Homeowner Assistance Settlement Act revived the requirement that a mortgage lender provide a borrower with notice of its intention to foreclose on a residential home (called "Act 91 Notice"). Under this notice requirement, mortgage lenders are required not only to provide borrowers with notices of intent to foreclose on their homes prior to initiating foreclosure proceedings, but also to tell borrowers why they are in default, how they can cure the default, and that they may be eligible for HEMAP assistance.

Get in touch with a Pennsylvania attorney if you are facing mortgage foreclosure

If you are facing mortgage foreclosure, it is important for you to contact an experienced Pennsylvania lawyer as soon as possible. You may be eligible for HEMAP assistance, but even if you aren't, there are many ways that a knowledgeable attorney can help stave off a mortgage foreclosure. To protect your rights, it is important to seek legal help as early in the foreclosure process as possible.