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Freddie Mac authorizes HUD unemployment program

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Freddie Mac directed its servicers to fully participate in the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program, which provides mortgage assistance for the unemployed. The Dodd-Frank Act authorized the Department of Housing and Urban Development to allocate $1 billion toward EHLP in the form of interest-free loans to roughly 30,000 borrowers in 27 states and five others with a similar program. The loans can range as high as $50,000, but HUD expects the average amount to be $35,000. The borrower must put at least $150 toward the monthly mortgage payment themselves. Borrowers have until July 22 to apply for assistance. Fannie Mae directed its servicers last month to fully participate in the program as well. Freddie said its servicers will suspend foreclosure proceedings once notified the borrower has been approved for EHLP assistance, regardless of the initial application date. This differs from Fannie's guidance which states the servicer could suspend a foreclosure as long as the application date comes more than 30 days before the foreclosure sale date. Freddie servicers must contact the appropriate agency if the they do not receive payment in order to determine whether or not EHLP assitance was terminated. Borrowers are allowed to miss one monthly mortgage payment after receiving program funds. If they do not make it up the following month, the funding can be cut off. "If assistance has not been terminated, servicers must communicate with the borrower to ensure payment is remitted to the appropriate agency," Freddie said. "If assistance has been terminated, servicers must resume appropriate collection efforts." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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