Pennsylvania's Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, credited with rescuing more than 46,000 state residents from foreclosure since 1983, is accepting applications again from troubled borrowers.
The $66.5 million in funding for the program comes from money that state Attorney General Linda Kelly received as Pennsylvania's share of a $25 billion national settlement with five major lenders over foreclosure-processing issues.
Forty-nine states received shares of the settlement reached with the lenders after it was discovered that foreclosure documents had been submitted for action without being read before they were signed. This came to be known as robo-signing.
In each state, the attorney general received direct payments of portions of the settlement to fund consumer-protection and foreclosure-protection efforts.
After months of lobbying efforts by 80 groups making up the Pennsylvania Save Our Homes Coalition, the legislature approved the use of the funds in late June.
In the months after the HEMAP funding dried up and the required notification to troubled borrowers on how to avoid losing their homes ended, foreclosure filings in Pennsylvania began rising.
In the six years since the housing bubble burst, Pennsylvania trailed many states in foreclosure filings. While still not as devastating as in other states, the rise in foreclosures here was attributed by many advocates to the end of HEMAP.
Gov. Corbett announced the resumption of the program Thursday in Harrisburg.
About 90 percent of the $66.5 million will be used to fund HEMAP, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), over the next five years.
The rest will be divided between consumer-protection services provided by the Attorney General's Office and legal assistance on housing issues.
HEMAP will receive an additional $6 million this year to address an anticipated backlog of foreclosure applicants, according to housing agency officials.
Homeowners at least three months delinquent on their mortgage payments may be eligible for assistance.
When they call PHFA, they will be directed to a local counseling agency for help in completing an application.
Applicants should take paperwork related to their mortgage delinquency with them to that meeting, including an Act 6 notice, if they have received one.
A lender is required to send an Act 6 notice by certified or registered mail to a residential mortgage borrower before filing a foreclosure action in Common Pleas Court.
The notice applies only to borrowers with mortgages of $221,540 or less.
Homeowners interested in more information about HEMAP may contact PHFA toll-free during weekday business hours at 1-800-342-2397.
More information also is available online at www.phfa.org/counseling/hemap.aspx.