More Foreclosure Assistance Provided In Financial Reform Bill

As the financial reform bill continues to make its way through Congress, at least one measure has been hammered out: a plan to combat mortgage foreclosures styled after the Pennsylvania HEMAP program has been approved by both the House and Senate.  I wrote about the HEMAP program in an earlier blog post.

The plan, called HEMA, would take $3 billion from unused TARP funds to provide assistance to homeowners in financial distress.  HEMA will require servicers and lenders to inform homeowners of the program availability before starting the foreclosure process.

If the homeowner is accepted into the program, he or she would make a small payment, based on what is affordable to the HUD and HUD would remit the full payment to the homeowner’s servicer. Payments would continue until the homeowner’s financial problems were resolved, whereupon he or she would resume making the full mortgage payment to the servicer and would also need to repay HUD for the payments advanced.

It is unclear how closely the HEMA program mirrors the HEMAP program, but if it is fairly close, any repayment of advanced monies would be over a long term period of time and capped at a level that is affordable for the homeowner.

The inclusion of a foreclosure assistance program within the financial reform bill is welcome news. Unlike HAMP, the HEMA program will carry the full force of law, which means that servicers and lenders can be forced to comply.

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