Updated February 23 at 11:56am
11/9/10 01:22PM

Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island helps at-risk Rhode Islanders avoid foreclosure

Series of community meetings will provide information on the new program Providence, R.I. (Nov. 9, 2010) – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin, …

Series of community meetings will provide

information on the new program

Providence, R.I. (Nov. 9, 2010) – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin, Congressman-elect David Cicilline and Rhode Island

Housing announced today the launch of Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island (HHFRI), a new program to prevent avoidable foreclosures by assisting homeowners who are unable to make their mortgage payments due to a documented financial hardship. In all, the U.S.

Treasury made available to Rhode Islanders $80 million to help those at risk of losing their homes.

“This is both a tremendous challenge and opportunity and I know Rhode Island Housing has worked hard to get this program up and running. I am committed to ensuring the state has the resources and assistance it needs to help families and neighborhoods and get our economy back on track. I expect Rhode Island Housing to push forward with this program and target these funds to prevent foreclosures and help Rhode Island recover

from the housing crisis,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

During the announcement at the John Hope Settlement House, located in Providence, a community hard hit by foreclosures, its President and CEO Peter Lee publicized that the John Hope Settlement House, located at 7 Thomas P. Whitten Way, on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 6:30 p.m., will host the first of a series of public meetings to inform the public about HHFRI. For a complete listing of community meetings, visit www.HHFRI.org.

“This recession hit Rhode Island earlier and harder than most states, and our foreclosure crisis continues to be the worst in New England,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon

Whitehouse. “Too many families needlessly face foreclosure due to uncooperative loan servicers and bureaucratic red tape, and I'm pleased that our efforts have resulted in this program to help many families avoid the unnecessary tragedy of losing their home.”

Additional public meetings have been scheduled for Sat., Nov. 20, at 11 a.m., at the Buttonwoods Community Center, 3027 West Shore Rd., Warwick; and on Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 6:30 p.m., at the John F. Deering Middle School, 2 Webster Knight Dr., West Warwick.

“In Rhode Island, we were hit early and hard by the housing crisis. We currently have the fifth highest unemployment rate, and Rhode Islanders have struggled with mortgage payments due to the loss of jobs,” said U.S. Representative Langevin. “This fund will bring help and relief to our homeowners and stabilize our housing market.”

On Nov. 1, lenders and specially certified housing counselors started processing applications from Providence homeowners who have a documented financial hardship such as job loss or underemployment. By Dec. 1, applications from homeowners statewide will be accepted. For a complete listing of counselors and lenders, visit www.HHFRI.org.

There are two ways to apply for HHFRI assistance. They are either through the lender if it is a Rhode Island-based bank or credit union or via a HUD approved and HHFRI

certified counselor such as the Rhode Island Housing HelpCenter.

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

 Help to obtain a loan modification from your lender.

 Help to make mortgage payments while unemployed.

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

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

“We have the responsibility to do everything in our power to help families hit hard by the recession and mortgage crisis hold onto their homes,” said Congressman-elect David Cicilline. “This program will give families on the brink of losing their homes valuable assistance when they need it the most.”

Rhode Island Housing has been designated by the Treasury to oversee the Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island. The agency will be processing, approving and administering the submissions from lenders, servicers and specially trained HHFRI certified counselors.

“The funding for Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island means we are able to bring relief to a large spectrum of Rhode Islanders who are in danger of losing their home," said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “The purpose of this program is to prevent foreclosures by helping homeowners who have a documented financial hardship that has affected their ability to make a mortgage payment.”

HHFRI is intended to complement existing federal and lender programs, and will only be available to Rhode Islanders who have exhausted all other options and do not own any other real estate. The HHFRI program will vary but generally will be in the form of either a loan modification from lenders or assistance with mortgage payments.

For more information on the Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island, visit www.HHFRI.org.

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