- Parker Perry Staff Writer
Clark and Champaign County residents who find themselves in a tough situation with bills mounting might be eligible for mortgage help, especially after the state expanded the qualifications to get the resources.
Save the Dream Ohio is a state-run program that takes settlement money paid by housing lenders after the foreclosur crisis and distributes it to Ohio residents with housing needs.
It can give residents behind on their mortgage up to $35,000 to get caught up. Requirements include a person must be eligible for unemployment or disability benefits, must have a household income of less than $112,000 and the balance of the mortgage must be below $432,000.
“This is for people who are behind basically due to an unforeseen hardship,” Neighborhood Housing Partnership Home Ownership Manager Kerri Brammer said. “We document the hardship and the cash can help make up to nine months of the houseo payment with the maximum of $35,000.”
Before, residents had to be eligible for unemployment to qualify for the program. Now, anyone who qualifies for disability or unemployment may be eligible. The program isn’t taxpayer funded.
It’s rare that anyone uses the maximum amount, Brammer said, however, the program can cause a lot of relief to those stressed about making payments when trouble happens.
The office has taken in more than 20 applications since the start of the year and 16 have been approved. Few know about the program, Brammer said, and anyone who knows someone who might be eligible should encourage them to go online at SaveTheDream.Ohio.Gov to see if they are approved.
The people who often are approved are those who want to work but can’t for reasons outside of their control.
“They are concerned about staying in their homes,” Brammer said. “The idea of getting caught up and having nine months to figure things out, it allows them to take a breath.”
People who apply are typically proud, NHP Executive Director Tina Koumoutsos said, and sharing that they got the money can be difficult.
One recipient told Brammer that they were thankful for the help after being met with tough circumstances.
The recipient must remain in their home for at least five years after receiving the assistance or pay the money back, Brammer said. If they stay at least that long, the person or family wouldn’t owe any of the money.
Keeping families in houses in Clark and Champaign counties can have many positive effects on the economy, Koumoutsos said. For one, she said it is estimated that when a neighborhood has a vacant property on the street, homes around it can loose up to $3,000 in property value.
“When a home goes vacant it really can send the neighborhood into a downward spiral and the community starts to lose value on homes,” she said. “They can also lose the property tax on the homes for services in that community.”
She said the effects on the family that was displaced can also be large.
“The impact on the family is devastating,” she said. “Their credit is usually destroyed and it is really hard to for them to find a decent place to rent.”
Anyone hoping to get more information for Save the Dream Ohio program can go online or call the offices at 937-322-4623.