The state housing authority has recently received over $150 million in federal aid to help South Carolinians avoid foreclosure. The US Department of the Treasury provided the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority with two grants. The money will come from a special fund created from returned bailout money under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Authority spokesperson Clayton Ingram says the money will assist those who are having trouble paying off their mortgages. Ingram says it is only intended to help “responsible borrowers.”
These are people who have fallen behind in their mortgage or are moving towards foreclosure really through no fault of their own. What we’re not going to be able to do is help people who have stripped equity out of their home… People who’ve used their home for a pig bank really are not going to be able to be assisted by this program.
“Responsible borrowers” are those facing high debt due to unemployment, catastrophic medical bills, death of a spouse, or divorce.
Ingram said South Carolina received the money because the state faces sustained unemployment. The funding comes from the federal Hardest Hit fund and is designed to expand the reach of the state’s existing programs. Ingram says the money helps people make their mortgage payments for a time. Other options include refinancing mortgages and, in extreme cases, helping people move to rental homes if their debt cannot be repaid.
Since any additional government funding is viewed with suspension by conservative politicans, Ingram defended the program, saying he expects it to help up to 30,000 households. He added that allowing tens of thousands of homes to slip into foreclosure would have a far-reaching impact:
Not only does it affect the people that are foreclosed on, but it also affects the quality of life in teh whole state. When houses are abandoned, when schools are disrupted, when people have to move, everyone suffers becasue of that.
Ingram said anyone who feels they might need to use the program can visit the department’s website at scmortgagehelp.com. However, he added the Authority has not yet finalized the eligibilty requirements. The department hopes to have applications available by the first week of November.
He warned that anyone currently behind on their mortgage should not depend upon this program and should instead seek a counseling agency right away.
Ingram said the funding, which totals nearly $300 million when added to an earlier $138 million dollar grant in August, should last through 2016.