HUD, in conjunction with NeighborWorks America, announced Monday a new program to help homeowners facing foreclosure due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment, economic conditions, or a medical condition. The program will be available for 27 states across the country and Puerto Rico. The Emergency Homeowners Loan Program (EHLP) provides for an interest free loan which pays a portion of their monthly mortgage for up to two years or $50,000, whichever comes first. The EHLP program will include missed mortgage payments (including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance), or past due charges, AND attorney fees. I think it was a wise idea to include attorney fees in this program because the last time most attorneys worked pro bono (for free), Latin was the common language.

Obviously the potential for scam artists to try and profit off of the misery of distressed homeowners is real and an area of deep concern. Borrowers should be very, very, careful about mail solicitations, or radio and TV ads requiring consumers to pay upfront fees or membership fees. More information about this program may be obtained at www.FindEHLP.org or by calling 1-855-FINF-EHLP (346-3345). Homeowners should look at the website. If they need help go to a HUD approved counselor or contact the loan officer or real estate agent who were involved in the purchase of the home. True professionals provide service to their clients before and after the sale.

I would encourage applicants to put their contact information such as name, email address, and file number on every document they provide. Emailing seems to work better than faxing, but if you must fax I would put Page 1 of 10, 2 of 10, etc on the top right corner if all information provided. Keep the information you have provided organized and accessible, and follow up to make sure it arrived. Everyone involved in this process needs to be on the same page, and the people who will be processing the applications are not mind readers.

NeighborWorks America, www.nw.org, is the nation’s leader in affordable housing and community development. It is involved with more than 235 community development organizations in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It is a legitimate organization that I admire.

Chip Allen

Crestline Mortgage Bankers

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