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Changes to the foreclosure-prevention program being administered by Rhode Island Housing approved

Unemployed residents are encouraged to contact the HHFRI Center, 401-277-1500, info@HHFRI.org, for an appointment to begin the application process Providence (June 1, 2011) – Rhode Island …

Unemployed residents are encouraged to contact the HHFRI Center, 401-277-1500, info@HHFRI.org, for an appointment to begin the application process

Providence (June 1, 2011) – Rhode Island Housing announced today that the U.S. Treasury has approved the latest changes to the Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island (HHFRI) foreclosure-prevention program. The modifications will make it easier for homeowners at risk of losing their homes to qualify and obtain assistance in making mortgage payments.

Among the new criteria, those who are unemployed and believe they may qualify are encouraged to contact the HHFRI Center, 401-277-1500, or info@HHFRI.org to get an appointment with a HUD approved and HHFRI certified counselor. They can begin the application process right away.

“With these adjustments HHFRI will be able to bring relief to more Rhode Islanders and keep them in their homes," said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “The purpose of this program is to prevent foreclosures and stabilize the housing market by helping homeowners make mortgage payments.”

Rhode Islanders with household incomes of less than $50,000 per year can qualify without further hardship documentation if their monthly mortgage payments, including taxes and insurance, are 35 percent or more of their gross monthly income. Deployed members of the U.S. Armed forces (enlisted personnel in regular and reserve units of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard) whose income has dropped because of deployment can qualify for the foreclosure-prevention assistance.

In addition, struggling homeowners may be eligible if they have savings of less than $15,000 and have already used all available bank or government assistance programs. (You can have any amount in a retirement account such as a 401k or an IRA.)

Also, Rhode Islanders who own more than one property may meet the requirements for HHFRI. Previously the qualifications limited homeownership to one property.

Families with incomes of less than $102,400 (and households of one or two persons making no more than $87,800) could qualify if they can demonstrate a documented financial hardship such as death or disability of a key wage earner; unforeseen medical expenses; and costly home repairs as a result of flooding in Rhode Island during spring 2010.

You can apply for HHFRI assistance through a HUD approved and HHFRI certified counselor such as the Rhode Island Housing HelpCenter, 401-457-1130. Or, through your lender if it is a Rhode Island-based bank or credit union. (Citizens Bank is considered at Rhode Island-based even though its loans are serviced in another state.)

To spread the word about HHFRI, Rhode Island Housing has been holding free informational meetings about HHFRI. The next meeting is on Saturday (June 4) at 10:30 a.m. at the Christ Episcopal Church, 7 Elm St., Westerly.

Additional meetings are scheduled for Monday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at St. Martha's Church, 2595 Pawtucket Ave., East Providence, with a Portuguese translator. On Monday, June 20, at 6 p.m. a HHFRI meeting will be held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, 475 Cranston St., Providence. The meeting will be in English along with a Spanish translator.

On Saturday, June 25, at 10 a.m. a HHFRI meeting will be held at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library, 100 Tinkham Lane, Harrisville. The presentation will be in English.

“Any Rhode Islander struggling to make a mortgage payment is encouraged to attend one of these free informational meetings to learn more,” said Godfrey. “With HHFRI, we can help keep more Rhode Islanders in their homes.”

HHFRI assistance will address Rhode Islanders’ unique situation but it generally breaks down into the following areas:

• Help to make mortgage payments while unemployed.

• Help to make mortgage payments while underemployed.

• Help to make an immediate payment to save your home, such as unpaid property taxes.

• Help to obtain a loan modification from your lender.

• Help to assist homeowners who are in a severe financial crisis to relocate.

The U.S. Treasury made available to Rhode Islanders $80 million to help those at risk of losing their homes. Rhode Island Housing has been designated by the U.S. Treasury to process, approve and administer submissions from lenders, servicers and HUD approved and HHFRI certified counselors.

HHFRI is intended to complement existing federal and lender programs, and will only be available to Rhode Islanders who have exhausted all other options. The HHFRI program will vary but generally will be in the form of either assistance with mortgage payments or loan modification from lenders.

For more information on the Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island, visit: www.HHFRI.org; or call: 401-277-1500; or email: info@HHFRI.org.

Media Contact:

Faye Zuckerman

401-277-1564

fzuckerman@rhodeislandhousing.org

Jane D’Arcy

401-453-4748 (work)

401-451-0485 (cell)

jdarcy@addventures.com

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