Home Rescue coming to an end

Federal mortgage program helped 700 Central Oregonians, 9,500 statewide

By Joseph Ditzler / The Bulletin

Published May 1, 2014 at 12:01AM

Home Rescue Program

Remaining weeklong application cycles start on the following Wednesdays: May 14, May 28, June 11, June 25.

For more information, visitwww.oregonhomeowner help,org

A program that helped more than 700 Central Oregonians get current on their mortgage payments will end July 1.

The federally funded Home Rescue Program in Oregon paid out about $120 million in three years to 9,500 qualified homeowners who, due to job loss or a pay reduction, fell behind on their mortgages. The U.S. Treasury Department gave Oregon $148 million for the mortgage program, part of $220 million the state received from the federal Hardest Hit Fund established in February 2010. The Hardest Hit Fund provided $7.6 billion to the District of Columbia and 18 states hardest hit by the 2007 housing market collapse that accompanied the Great Recession.

“We’re really excited that this program has been so successful,” said Alison McIntosh, spokeswoman for Oregon Housing and Community Services. “We’re on track to commit the entire amount of money allocated by the Treasury.”

In Deschutes County, 585 homeowners benefited from the Home Rescue Program; along with 112 in Crook County and 97 in Jefferson County, said Scott Cooper, executive director of NeighborImpact, the local agency that assists homeowners with their applications.

Five application windows of one week each remain before the program concludes as its funds run out, McIntosh said. The application periods open at noon on alternate Wednesdays and close the following Tuesday. The final cycle starts June 25 and ends at noon July 1, she said. The state estimates another 1,500 may apply.

Home Rescue provides up to 12 months of mortgage payments or $20,000, whichever comes first. It also provides a maximum $10,000 to qualified homeowners to bring their mortgages current. To qualify, homeowners must now earn at least 10 percent less than they earned in either 2011 or 2012 and less than 120 percent of state median income. Prospective applicants may find out if they qualify by answering a questionnaire online atwww.oregonhomeownerhelp.org.

The program, one of three created as part of the Hardest Hit Fund to assist homeowners, proved more popular statewide than anticipated. But Cooper said efforts to reach mortgage holders in arrears in Crook and Jefferson counties fell short.

“We had a greater response in Oregon than we could meet, but we were beating the bushes repeatedly in Crook and Jefferson trying to get people to apply for the program,” he said. “Percentage-wise, there was an even greater need in those two counties.”

The state agency held its application response time to four months, though it sometimes stretched as long as 155 days, McIntosh said.

Two other Hardest Hit programs aimed to reduce homeowners’ costs by refinancing their mortgages. The Loan Refinancing Assistance Pilot Project and the Rebuilding American Homeownership Assistance program remain in effect, McIntosh said. The Loan Refinancing Assistance program assists homeowners in Crook, Deschutes, Jackson, Jefferson and Josephine counties, specifically. More information is available at the agency website.

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com