Las Vegas Sun

December 7, 2021

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Program offers mortgage relief for low-income homeowners

CARSON CITY -- Clark County has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation and a new program is offering relief for thousands of low-income residents to stay in their homes.

A nonprofit agency is ready to help unemployed or underemployed homeowners pay their mortgages, offering up to $500 a month for six months.

“Lots of people have to choose between food, medicine or paying the mortgage,” says Lon DeWeese of Nevada’s Hardest Hit Funds program, which is using $194 million in federal funds.

This is not a giveaway program, DeWeese said. The homeowner still has to pay the remaining part of the mortgage.

The nonprofit agency will send its share directly to the mortgage bank.

“The overarching goal is to help people remain in their homes,” DeWeese said in rolling out the program in Clark County. The mortgage assistance is the first of a four-part program that will be started later this month.

It is estimated that more than 17,000 Clark County families will be able to take advantage of the full program and $127.7 million has been set aside for Southern Nevada.

The first part of the mortgage assistance will pay one-third of the principal and interest portion of the eligible homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment, up to $500.

The assistance program can be reached by calling 855-428-HELP. The call center can take 300 calls at a time and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and a half-day Saturday, or contact can be made at www.nevadahardesthitfunds.com.

Homeowners are advised to have available information on their first mortgage; their income, such as a copy of the most recent pay stub; and names and Social Security numbers of co-homeowners.

Nevada was one of five states to receive the grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury because of its high unemployment rate, which is above 14 percent -- the highest in the nation. The other states were Arizona, California Florida and Michigan.

At the same time, the state Foreclosure Mediation Program released data that 43 percent of the cases negotiated resulted in homeowners remaining in their homes.

Verise V. Campbell, deputy director of the program in the Nevada Supreme Court, told a legislative budget subcommittee Tuesday there were 2,611 mediation cases assigned in the first quarter of this fiscal year. About 70 percent of those were from Clark County.

A second part of the nonprofit program will be rolled out March 10-14 in Clark County to assist income-restricted homeowner candidates to preserve their home ownership. The nonprofit will provide up to $25,000 to a qualified homeowner to be matched dollar for dollar by the resident's bank to reduce the principal on the mortgage.

In the last week in March, help will be available to homeowners who are beginning or need to start a short-sale process. It will help ease the transition from unsustainable home ownership to becoming a renter.

The final part is the second lien relief program. This is designed to assist homeowners who have a second mortgage that might be interfering with the refinance, short-sale or modification of their first mortgage.

Consumers who want to take advantage of one of the final three parts of the program can contact Consumer Credit Counseling at 702-364-0344 or the Women’s Development Center at 702-796-7770.

DeWeese said these four programs will “provide a big chunk of help,” but there is a shared responsibility.

This program was introduced in Washoe County on Feb. 25 and will be started in rural counties in the middle of the month.

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