Indiana struggling to distribute foreclosure aid funds

May 26, 2012

Indiana has $182 million in federal foreclosure-prevention aid, but some of that money could go back to the U.S. Treasury.

The Indiana Department of Housing and Community Development has struggled to reach eligible homeowners and this month launched another round of radio ads featuring Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. The ads encourage people to call a counselor at 1-877-Get-Hope.

People who’ve been unemployed can receive $12,000 to $18,000 in no-interest forgivable loans from the Hardest Hit Fund.

The ads hit the airwaves as unemployment appears to be on a downward trend. Indiana’s rate fell to 7.9 percent in April from 8.2 percent in March. It’s now below the national average of 8.1 percent and at its lowest point since November 2008.

“Theoretically, at least, when the unemployment rate drops, our eligible pool drops,” said Mark Neyland, operations manager for the Hardest Hit Fund in Indiana.

Indiana has until the end of 2017 to spend the money. Any funds that aren’t spent or spoken for will go back to Treasury, Neyland said.

Indiana received the money in August 2010 and has received 1,200 to 1,300 applications so far, Neyland said. The number of loans approved is close to 1,000.

The goal is to help more than 10,000 people, Neyland said.

The department doesn’t know how many Hoosiers might qualify for the Hardest Hit Fund, which is one of several options that could be presented by foreclosure-assistance counselors.

Indiana received the money because of its high unemployment rate. Not everyone who’s facing foreclosure has received unemployment insurance, which is the key to qualifying for the Hardest Hit fund.

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