Casey, Fattah Highlight Benefits of New Emergency Mortgage Relief Law

PHILADELPHIA, PA – August 18, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Homeowners who have lost their jobs and face foreclosure will benefit from the new $1 billion emergency mortgage relief program scheduled to go into effect by Oct. 1, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) announced today.

The Emergency Homeowners Relief Fund, authored by Fattah with Casey as lead Senate advocate, was enacted as a major provision in the Wall Street Reform Act signed into law by President Obama in July. Fattah, as a young state legislator in 1983, was architect of Pennsylvania’s Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP), which served as Congress’ model for the national program.

Pennsylvania is expected to receive tens of millions of dollars from the Emergency Homeowners Relief Fund under a formula being developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will oversee the new program along with other national mortgage relief efforts.

The new federal program authorizes loans up to $50,000 for a qualifying homeowner. Pennsylvania’s HEMAP extends loans over 24 months, a standard that HUD is reviewing as it designs regulations for the program.

“Millions of American homeowners, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs in the current economic downturn and have faced the loss of their piece of the American dream,” said Rep. Fattah. “HEMAP is a proven success in Pennsylvania and now we will show that it will work nationally. It will keep families in their homes, providing emergency relief from foreclosure for those with a proven history for working and paying their mortgage.”

“We will continue to provide support to help Pennsylvanians get back on their feet and stay in their homes,” said Senator Casey. “The Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) has been providing unemployed homeowners with temporary mortgage relief since 1983 and now families across the nation will be able to benefit from this program. I am delighted to see this Pennsylvania initiative grow beyond our Commonwealth to further help those affected by this economic downturn.”

The news conference Wednesday was held at offices of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, 112 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, whose executive director John Dodds helped design and implement the original HEMAP program in Pennsylvania.

“The new driving force in foreclosures is unemployment, not subprime
mortgages. The Emergency Homeowners Relief Fund provides long-overdue recognition to that fact,” said Dodds, whose nonprofit PUP has helped make Philadelphia an innovative leader in foreclosure-relief. “The leadership of Senator Casey and Congressman Fattah has been critical in raising awareness and providing funding for emergency mortgage relief on a national scale.”

Also speaking at the news conference was Adena Holder of West Philadelphia, who benefited from a HEMAP loan and credits the Pennsylvania program with keeping her in her own home.  “HEMAP is a blessing,” Mrs. Holder said. “If it hadn’t been for them I would have begging someone for a place to stay. I am very grateful.”

Fattah, who is Chairman of the Congressional Urban Caucus and Pennsylvania’s senior appropriator on the House Appropriations Committee, developed the HEMAP concept and guided it to passage as a young state legislator in 1983. He said Pennsylvania’s program, administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, “can serve as a model for rapid rollout of HEMAP nationwide.”

Casey has fought for assistance for homeowners facing foreclosure since his first year as a United States Senator.  He co-authored the first major legislation addressing the subprime mortgage crisis while fighting for additional funding for foreclosure prevention counseling.  Recognizing early that widespread unemployment would result in a second wave of foreclosures, he advocated for more flexibility for states and local communities in using federal funds to prevent foreclosures.

Brian Hudson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, which administers HEMAP, presented Senator Casey and Congressman Fattah with awards for their hard work on the issue of mortgage relief.

“We’re grateful to Senator Casey and Congressman Fattah for holding our HEMAP program up as a model to be used nationally,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Brian Hudson. “In its 27 years of existence, our HEMAP program has saved 44,000 homes from foreclosure in the commonwealth. These are homes for hard-working Pennsylvania families who hit a tough spell and needed a helping hand. HEMAP provides an excellent model for helping families across the nation at this time when many are facing unemployment.”

HEMAP has provided over $433 million in emergency mortgage assistance loans, and about 17,000 have repaid their loans in full. Nearly 90 percent of Pennsylvania homeowners receiving this assistance have avoided foreclosure.

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