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HUD can help foreclosed

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Homeowners who are at the end of their rope could have the chance to save their houses from foreclosure with the help of a government program, but U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) says time is running out.

The congressman joined with the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and community housing advocates at his offices in Jamaica Monday to get homeowners to apply for HUD’s Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program. The no-interest loan can pay qualified applicants up to $50,000 for their late mortgage payments for up to two years.

Since Congress has allocated $1 billion for the program, Meeks said 35,000 homeowners could get the aid, but the deadline for the application is this Friday.

“We are fighting to keep as many people in their homes as possible,” he said.

Southeast Queens neighborhoods such as Jamaica, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens lead the state in the number of foreclosures. Many of those homeowners were victims of predatory lenders and subprime loans.

The EHLP is given to applicants who meet a certain set of criteria. Homeowners must be unemployed or their current income level must be at least 15 percent less than it was in 2009, have a written notice from their mortgage lender indicating they are delinquent on their payments and have no tax liens.

Applicants must submit their paperwork to HUD-approved consulting agencies such as Neighborhood Housing Services of Jamaica, where trained professionals will go over the rest of the process.

HUD regional director Adolfo Carrion said the program has helped a lot of homeowners, but there are many who could be helped but have not applied.

“If you’re in trouble, you need to reach out for help and help is available for you,” the former Bronx borough president said.

Daniel George, a foreclosure specialist at NHS, agreed.

“I can say this program is a big help for those families [who face foreclosure],” he said.

Yolanda Sierra, a Jackson Heights homeowner who is in the early stages of foreclosure due to her fight with cancer, is one of the applicants who has applied for the financial aid.

Although she is still going through the process in courts, Sierra said her foreclosure specialists have made her more confident about her situation.

“It has been very difficult,” she said in Spanish. “I went to a lot of different offices.”

For more information on the EHLP program, log on to findehlp.org or call 855-346-3345.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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