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South Carolina Foreclosure Prevention for Unemployed Homeowners

For the last year, struggling South Carolina homeowners have a lifeline through the South Carolina Homeownership and Employment Lending Program.

Participation in SC HELP started slowly, partly because eligibility standards were too strict. In the last year, though, the standards have been relaxed and the program is now growing rapidly.

SC HELP is designed to help homeowners who have fallen on hard times avoid foreclosure. The program provides three different types of assistance: monthly mortgage payments for unemployed homeowners, a one-time payment to help reemployed homeowners cover missed payments and help with a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure.

The program is only available to "responsible borrowers," that is, homeowners who were current on their mortgages until they were struck by unemployment, underemployment or illness.

Program Has Renewed Focus in 2012

Last year, approximately 1,487 households received aid through the program. Although this is a substantial number, the goal was to help twice as many.

The program got off to a slow start, but, by August, all the bugs had been worked out. It has been gathering steam ever since. The number of participants has grown about 200 percent each month for the last four months.

In 2012, the program has a goal of approving 800 homeowners per month.

Homeowners who wish to apply for the foreclosure-prevention program will have to submit an application packet that includes a hardship letter, bank statements and tax returns. Qualifying applicants will be eligible for up to $36,000 in mortgage assistance.

If you are behind on your mortgage payments, know that you have options. Even if you don't qualify for SC HELP there may be away to save your home or avoid foreclosure. Talk to a Charleston real estate attorney who can help you understand your options.

Source: The State, "Foreclosure-Prevention Program Picking Up Steam," Adva Saldinger, Jan. 24, 2012.

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