Mortgage help for the unemployed

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -- There is a change to a federal program that is aimed at helping you to avoid losing your home when you are unemployed.

Unemployment is one of the leading reasons why people are losing their homes. Government leaders call this policy change a game-changer for thousands of people.

For the past several years, one word is seemingly popping up on your television screen more than ever before -- foreclosure. It has affected millions of people nationwide, leaving some families torn apart, without a home.

There is some relief and it starts today. The Federal Government is trying to help you get back on your feet and not lose your home.

Here's how the new plan works. If you are out of a job and have a government loan, you now will be able to skip your mortgage payments for 12 months. That's triple the amount of time than previously allowed.

"That gives them a lot more play to find sustainable employment and it helps those that are most hard hit," says Carrie Schmidt.  Schmidt runs the Virginia Housing and Urban Development office in Richmond. She's seeing more and more people lose their homes simply because they are out of work and unable to pay the bills.

"60 percent of folks have been unemployed at least 6 months so with the extension granted from 4 to 12 months, that really will help a lot of folks," she adds.

There are a couple things to keep in mind. First, you must already have a mortgage. While you won't make payments for the 12 months, interest on your loan will continue to pile up. Second, once you get a job, you must report to your lender. Then you'll be taken off the program.

"It's designed to give folks the opportunity they need to find employment. This certainly has been a tough economic time," adds Schmidt.

But now you have time to spare and keep the roof over your head at the same time.

HUD leaders tell us that Freddie and Fannie loans do not apply to this program. The best bet is to give your lender a call to see if you could be eligible for this program. Right now, the change is set to last for two years.

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