– The mortgage stimulus program known as the Mortgage Bankruptcy Relief Act of 2007 is helping millions of people across Georgia, with a program called the Georgia Dream Program that is intended to help millions of Georgians.
But it’s not all good news for people who have struggled to obtain a mortgage.
Many of the program’s beneficiaries, including the majority of the Georgia homeowners who were denied credit, still have to pay for the purchase of a house or condo, according to a letter sent by the Federal Housing Administration to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The program, which began in March 2008, allows eligible homeowners to purchase a home, which is financed with the proceeds of the federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and is designed to provide a financial lifeline to struggling homeowners.
The goal is to make mortgages affordable to those with low or moderate incomes, which include low-income families, seniors, and children.
The program also includes an array of other housing assistance programs that provide help to low- and moderate-income homeowners and those with limited assets.
A spokesperson for the federal agency said the Housing and Community Development (HCD) Office of Inspector General will begin reviewing the program in the coming weeks.
The GA HUD spokesperson said the GA Dream Program is intended as a tool for homeowners to buy a home that is loan-worthy, not as a substitute for a mortgage or down payment.
This is a critical part of the mortgage recovery effort, said a spokesperson for The Georgia Dream Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the mortgage assistance program.
HCD and other mortgage relief organizations are already pushing for more affordable mortgage options, including refinancing mortgages and buying homes with smaller down payments, to help the roughly half of the state’s households who are still struggling to obtain loans.
In April, the Georgia Public Housing Association (GPHA) announced a $100,000 grant to help low- to moderate- to low income homeowners with lower-cost mortgages get access to more affordable home loans.
The Georgia Dream program is meant to help homeowners who are unable to secure a mortgage through the HAMP program.
In the past, the federal Government has allowed the mortgage rescue program to be used to help individuals who were forced to sell their homes because they couldn’t pay their mortgage.
But the Federal Reserve began imposing restrictions in 2009 to ensure the government could only use HAMP funds to help those who had no other alternative, including for those who have had credit card debt, or who have limited assets, such as a car.
The GA HUD spokesman said the program is not meant to be a substitute to a mortgage, but instead to assist individuals with credit-worthiness and the ability to make a payment on a mortgage that is a good deal.
In Georgia, many of the recipients are homeowners who had trouble obtaining a mortgage because they were unable to find a loan lender willing to take on a higher interest rate, said the Georgia DHHS spokesperson.
They were forced by a loan company to pay the loan over a period of months or years because the company wouldn’t extend the term of the loan, he said.
As a result, many homeowners who could have gotten a mortgage without the mortgage relief program were left behind, according the Georgia DHS spokesperson.
People who were told that their credit score was low, or had no assets to purchase homes, were left in the lurch when they could not pay their loan, said Gaby A. Johnson, executive director of the American Housing Coalition, which advocates for affordable housing.
People are struggling to pay their mortgages and are facing foreclosure, said Johnson, a member of the GA DHHS Housing Advisory Board.
To help those that are struggling, the GA HUD and GPHA are now reviewing the Georgia Mortgage Bankruptedcy Relief Program.
The review will focus on whether the program can help to improve access to mortgages for low-wage, minority and low-credit borrowers and people of color.
“If the GA Bankruptcies Relief Program can help the most vulnerable and those who need the most help, then I think we have a good chance to succeed,” Johnson said.
The mortgage relief is intended for eligible homeowners with incomes of $20,000 or less and less than $50,000 in monthly household income.