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HUD extends deadline for unemployed mortgage assistance

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development will begin taking applications again for a new program providing interest-free loans to unemployed borrowers struggling with their mortgage payments. Under Dodd-Frank Act authority, HUD launched the $1 billion Emergency Homeowners Loan Program in June. Unemployed homeowners in 27 states including five others that operate similar existing programs could apply for up to $50,000 in assistance. The deadline expired July 27 after a brief three-day extension. On Monday, HUD said it would take applications through Sept. 15 as resources remain available. The deadline remains Sept. 30 for the five states operating their similar programs with EHLP funding, which are Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, and Maryland. HUD initially targeted 30,000 borrowers through EHLP at an average $35,000 loan size. Recipients must still be able to contribute $150 per month to the mortgage. Borrowers must contact a housing counselor in the NeighborWorks America network and file applications with their state Housing Finance Agency. HUD would then randomly select a number of pre-screened applicants until the EHLP funding is used. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency approved new interest-free loans to more than 1,500 unemployed borrowers through Aug. 19. The state, which pioneered the program and pushed HUD to open it earlier in the year, allocated $45 million so far in new loans. HUD provided $105 million to the state for EHLP loans. The PHFA received more than 3,100 applications since June and rejected just over 1,000. As many as 250 applications were filed on a single day at PHFA. "The deadline was extended to September to allow more time for contacting the counseling centers and getting more applications in," said Scott Elliott, a spokesman for PHFA. "People are very happy for the much needed help." The other 27 states participating in the program are: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming and Puerto Rico. The other states currently receive money through the Treasury Department's Hardest Hit Fund to develop unemployment assistance and foreclosure prevention programs. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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