Now that we no longer have to worry that our seated president might have been born in Africa and not Hawaii, let's turn our attention back to our neighbors who are still struggling with unemployment and the possible foreclosure of their homes.
Fortunately, relief for them could be an application away.
The Kentucky Unemployment Bridge Program, established through the federal Hardest Hit Fund to help unemployed and underemployed homeowners avoid foreclosure, is a first-come, first-served forgivable loan of up to $20,000 that can be used to pay delinquent house notes or current ones.
Applicants must have experienced a job loss or pay decrease since January 2009 through no fault of their own, and they have to have depleted their liquid reserves to a maximum of six months of house payments, said Brenda Weaver, chief program and policy officer at the Kentucky Housing Corporation. Those reserves do not include retirement or pension funds.
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Kentucky is one of 18 states and the District of Columbia chosen to participate in the program, based on unemployment statistics and decline in home values, Weaver said. Kentucky received nearly $149 million to help those in need.
"The good news is, we got the money," she said. "The bad news is, that means Kentucky is considered one of the hardest-hit states, with sustained unemployment numbers higher than the national average."
A pilot program was rolled out in January and then was expanded statewide the first week of April, she said.
"We had 750 calls from people who were seeking assistance in the first week of the program," Weaver said.
So far, most program applicants have come out of Louisville and Jefferson County. The money goes to the company that services or collects the mortgage payments, Weaver said. Depending on how fast information is gathered, applicants can have the loan processed as quickly as 30 days. While most servicers are participating in the program, some are not. That might disqualify an applicant.
But don't disqualify yourself, she said.
"If for any reason they don't qualify for this program, there is the chance they may qualify for something else," Weaver said, adding that counselors will work with applicants to find other solutions. The program has granted 26 loans so far. There are 432 applicants in the pipeline.
The loan is forgivable at the rate of 20 percent a year for five years if the applicant remains in the home. If the applicant sells the home before that, some part of the loan might have to be repaid.
Of the $20,000 assistance over a 12-month period, $7,500 can be used to catch up payments, while $12,500 can be used to stay current.
Information about the program has been distributed through a network of the housing counselors in the state and is available at unemployment offices.
"We have streamlined the paperwork and made the underwriting criteria as simple as possible," Weaver said. "We don't want anyone to lose their home if there is something we can do to help them."
To apply or for more information, visit www.protectmykyhome.org, or call (866) 830-7868.