The Department of Housing and Urban Development will release $1 billion in mortgage assistance to the unemployed this spring, a HUD spokesman confirmed to HousingWire Tuesday, after receiving complaints from lawmakers and advocacy groups that HUD was dragging its feet. More than 60 national consumer advocacy groups called on HUD to implement a program created under Dodd-Frank that would pay up to $50,000 per eligible borrower. The HUD money comes with a 0% interest rate and is intended to assist homeowners with mortgage payments for up to 24 months. Borrowers must show they have either lost their job or suffer from a medical condition to qualify for the federal funds. Also, a household's yearly income cannot exceed 120% of the area's median income, and the income must have been reduced by at least 15% over the last two years. The property must be the borrower's primary residence yet on the verge of foreclosure. The funds will compliment an initiative from the Treasury Department for assisting the unemployed through the Hardest Hit Fund. The Treasury breaks down which states get what through its program in the chart below, and HUD's EHLP assistance will go to the other 32 states. HUD announced the program in August, a month after Dodd-Frank was signed. But in early January, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) sent a letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, urging him to disburse the funds he claims were overdue. Two weeks later, advocates began to push the department as well. "The program was overdue when it was enacted in July 2010," the groups said in a letter sent to Donovan Jan. 21. "This foreclosure crisis is too severe for such a slow pace of implementation." A spokesman for HUD said homeowners should be able to apply for the EHLP program sometime during the first quarter of 2011. "Unfortunately this time table is slower than we initially expected, reflecting implementation challenges for this new and unique program," the spokesman said.  "We are committed to ensuring the program is as fair and effective as possible and we will take the necessary time to do that." The groups met with HUD Tuesday to voice their concerns in person. "We’re facing disaster and this is our last hope," Sharon Green, an unemployed homeowner in Philadelphia said. "We need this program ASAP. Thousands have already lost their homes and I don’t want to join them." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior