WATERVILLE — If you are behind on your mortgage and in jeopardy of losing your home, you have until the end of the week to apply for federal assistance.

The Kennebec Valley Community Action Program is taking pre-application screening worksheets for the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program, a federal program authorized by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010.

KVCAP’s program manager, Casey Bromberg, said 319 households in Maine will leverage $10.3 million in funds — an average of approximately $32,000 — to, hopefully, catch up on languishing mortgage payments.

Bromberg said more than 200 applications have come in to KVCAP, but there are only 134 spots to allocate in the program.

According to get-ehlp.org, three other entities in Maine are accepting applications as well, such as York County Community Action Program and Money Management International, a national company with two locations in Augusta and South Portland.

Bromberg said congressional offices have told her they’ve received calls about the program from constituents who thought it was a scam.

“It really does sound too good to be true,” she said. “We’re lucky it is.”

And foreclosures are a problem in Maine — there have been 1,879 filings here in 2011 and 72 of the houses have been sold, according to realtytrac.com.

This June, the website says, 51 filings have popped up in Kennebec County alone.

Those applying must be at least 90 days late on a mortgage, have received a foreclosure notice from a lender and have experienced an income drop of at least 15 percent since 2009 due to economic woe caused by unemployment, underemployment, or a medical condition, among other things.

You also cannot have been more than 60 days late on a payment more than once, cannot be in bankruptcy, have liens on a home or be in delinquency on a federal loan, even a student loan.

If selected, a person would receive a one-time, zero percent interest forgivable loan that can go toward mortgage payments, as well as missed payments and late charges, adding up to a maximum $50,000. Assistance is limited to a two-year period.

The forgiveness of the loan comes after five years — if homeowners are current on their payments.

“At the end of five years, it’s like this never happened,” Bromberg said.

Critics of the program say homeowners who can’t catch up with the payments after assistance will be at risk for incurring additional debt in the future.

Michael Shepherd — 621-5662

[email protected]

CALL FOR HELP

Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, Waterville: 1-800-542-8227

York County Community Action Program, Sanford: 1-800-965-5762

Money Management International, South Portland: 877-329-2502

Money Management International, Augusta: 877-329-2502

 

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