Help available for for some Florida seniors hurt by reverse mortgages

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Since the United States housing bubble, many elderly home owners in Florida decided to get a reverse mortgage on their homes so that they could afford to keep their residence. The longer a senior has a reverse mortgage the less value their home will have and they might find they can not afford to get by. There is a new program to help Florida’s seniors avoid foreclosure and hardship.

During a teleconference Tuesday, Florida Housing Finance Corporation and Florida Department of Elder Affairs announced what they’re calling the Florida Hardest-Hit Fund Elderly Mortgage Assistance Program, called ELMORE. Steve Auger, executive director with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, said there are a few eligibility requirements.

“They must be a legal U.S. resident, or legal alien. They must be a Florida resident. They must occupy the property as primary resident. The total household income, at the time of application must be below 140% of the area median income adjusted for household size. If there is a bankruptcy it must be discharged or dismissed. They must have suffered a hardship that has resulted in the inability to repay the amounts advanced by the reverse mortgage loan service or to pay property charges on their behalf.”

For up to twelve months, the ELMORE Program will pay things like property taxes, homeowners and flood insurance, and homeowner and condo association dues. Applicants will get access to other resources, such as meal programs and health care assistance. David Westcott, director of homeownership programs at Florida Housing Finance Corporation says the program will assist eligible borrowers by giving them up to $25,000 in a zero percent interest, deferred payment, forgivable loan, not including any current loans or a reverse mortgage.

< “The loan is forgiven at a rate of fifty percent per year, over a two year period. Now if the home is sold, on or prior to the end of the two year term, the ELMORE loan must be paid back. Provided however that there are adequate proceeds from that sale, in order to pay back the ELMORE loan. If there are not adequate proceeds from the sale, then no repayment is required.”

Beginning Tuesday, the ELMORE application phone line will be open. The toll free phone number is 18006013534. Florida’s share of of ELMORE funds is more than $1 billion.

An applicant should expect to be assigned to an ELMORE advisor who will follow them through the entire application process. The advisor will do a “benefits check-up” to find them assistance from other sources so that they can redirect their financial resources and avoid falling behind with future property charges. They should find out if they qualify for benefits within a matter of weeks.