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Troubled Philly borrowers get 90-day buffer after foreclosure sale

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Philadelphia homeowners who are scheduled to have their home auctioned at the restarted sheriff sale April 5, received a 90-day extension to wait for mortgage assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Pamela Dembe struck down a petition this week from the Philadelphia Unemployment Project to postpone the sale even further. The last auction took place in December, but was postponed for the next three months to give homeowners a chance to apply for the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program from HUD. HUD set aside $1 billion to provide up to $50,000 in interest-free loans covering 24 months worth of mortgage payments for the unemployed. Roughly 30,000 homeowners are expected to take part in the program. If a homeowner in Philadelphia has not applied for and received funding through EHLP by July 6, the sheriff's office was ordered to execute and record the sheriff's deed to the successful bidder, according to the Dembe ruling. The EHLP program, which was cleared through the Dodd-Frank Act, took some time getting off the ground. But HUD told HousingWire that it would begin accepting applications at some point this spring, though no date was given. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted in March to end the program before it starts. It was one of four foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization programs the House voted to terminate. When the House voted to end EHLP, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) argued the government could no longer afford such subsidies. "This Washington spending binge is driving our country right off a cliff," Bachus said. "When the taxpayers pay a $50,000 check, who do you think it goes to? It goes to Bank of America. It goes to JPMorgan Chase. It goes to Citigroup. This billion dollars is not going to homeowners. It's going to the largest institutions." The Republicans' bill ending EHLP will likely not pass the Senate, and President Obama has repeatedly said he would veto any legislation attempting to end foreclosure prevention funding. "HUD has yet to release the funds for EHLP, but it becomes even more critical that they move quickly as hundreds of homeowners who face sale on April 5 will need EHLP to maintain their homes," said John Dodds, director for the Philadelphia Unemployment Project. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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