Information taken from Claudie Burchfield

Breaking News -Starting December 1st, financial help is available for North Carolina homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages because they’ve lost their jobs or experienced other temporary hardships.

The N.C. Housing Finance Agency announced today that its new N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund is now available statewide through participating HUD-approved counseling agencies. The new program is financed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s “Hardest Hit Fund.”

“We expect the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund will enable 21,000 North Carolina unemployed workers to keep their homes,” said A. Robert Kucab, executive director of the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. “By reducing the number of foreclosure sales, the effort will also help stabilize property values in communities across the state.”

Kucab said the Fund will make mortgage payments for qualified unemployed workers while they seek jobs or complete job training in a new field. Others, who through no fault of their own, have gotten behind on their mortgage payments because of divorce, illness or other temporary hardship, may qualify for help while they seek jobs to get back on their feet. The program is expected to be available over the next three to five years.

The assistance will be provided as a zero-interest, deferred loan of up to $24,000 or 24 months of mortgage-related payments. In high unemployment counties designated as "hardest hit", the maximum assistance is $36,000 or 36 months.

See listing of "hardest hit" counties here.

Homeowners will resume making their own mortgage payments at the end of the loan period. If the owner continues to live in the home for 10 years, the loan will be considered satisfied and no repayment will be due.

To be eligible, homeowners must have a good mortgage payment history prior to the job loss or hardship, have potential to resume their mortgage payments once the assistance ends, and meet other program guidelines.

For more information about eligibility, homeowners in Western North Carolina should call OnTrack at 828-255-5166 or 1-800-737-5485 or visit the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund website.

The Treasury’s “Hardest Hit Fund” is authorized under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. It is available in 18 states and the District of Columbia, which have experienced high unemployment or a steep decline in property values. North Carolina was selected because of the large percentage of the population living in counties with high unemployment rates in 2009.

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency is a self-supporting public agency. It has financed 196,000 homes and apartments in the last three decades, including 81,000 for first-time homebuyers.