The American Dream is in danger. The recession that began in 2008 has decimated Pennsylvania’s families and the communities in which they live. While the recession is, technically, over, the sluggishness of the “recovery” has meant unemployment in excess of 8% for almost four years. Few families have the savings to outlast that kind of economic climate. Since that time, foreclosures have occurred at an alarming rate and are expected to rise.
On April 3, 2012, the PA Save Our Homes Coalition held a rally on the Capital Steps to send a message to the State Legislature and the Governor that it’s time to restore funding to the Pennsylvania Homeowner’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP). It’s time to “save our homes.”
For decades, HEMAP has provided low-interest loans saving over 46,000 Pennsylvania homeowners who were facing foreclosure through no fault of their own. Participants in the program struggled from a life-changing event such as an illness, loss of job, or divorce and consequently fell behind on their mortgage. That’s where HEMAP came into play. HEMAP is a second mortgage covering their outstanding arrearage, to help hard-working Pennsylvanians get back on their feet and prevent foreclosure.
Not only does HEMAP protect people’s homes, but it’s good for the Commonwealth as a whole. Most of the loans have been repaid and the state has actually received MORE funds in return from HEMAP loans than has been appropriated over the years. In addition, HEMAP has been a national model which has been praised by the New York Federal Reserve Bank as a potential solution to the national foreclosure crisis. It also improved the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s bond rating.
The PA Building Association supports the program but even that support couldn’t save it and, yet, despite all that, Governor Corbett shut down HEMAP on July 1, 2011, claiming we couldn’t afford it.
Recently, five branches settled with the 26 attorneys general who filed court action against them for their handling of foreclosures. PA Attorney General Linda Kelly announced that Pennsylvania’s share of the $25 million settlement is estimated to be as much as $266 million, including:
- $93 million in loan modifications and other direct relief;
- $21 million in cash payments to Pennsylvania borrowers who suffered servicing abuse and lost their homes to foreclosure from January 1, 2008 through December 31;
- Refinanced loans to Pennsylvania homeowners who are “underwater” worth an estimated $81 million;
- $69 million in direct payment to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Office of Attorney General.
The PA Save Our Homes Coalition, of which Community Action is a member, argues that this settlement should be used for annual payments of $22 million to fund HEMAP, $2 million for housing counseling, and $1 million for legal services for a period of 5 years.
The money is there and it’s time for the government to “let our money go.”
Visit the PA Save Our Homes Coalition to learn more and to find our how you can get involved.