For thousands of senior homeowners in Florida who may be facing foreclosure on their reverse mortgages, a new program is here to help. This month, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing), announced the Elderly Mortgage Assistance Program (ELMORE) in cooperation with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and Fannie Mae.
Using $25 million in federal funding allotted to Florida from Treasury’s Hardest-Hit Fund, this first-of-its-kind program will assist senior homeowners with home equity conversion mortgages – better known as reverse mortgages – who due to a hardship, are having difficulty making property tax, homeowners insurance, and homeowners and/or condo association fee payments. As a result, these homeowners may be facing foreclosure for non-payment of these required expenses.
A number of seniors (who are typically on fixed incomes) have struggled to stay current on their reverse mortgages – one reason, among others, is that the cost of homeowner’s insurance has gone up quite a bit in the last 5 to 10 years, as Florida has been hit by hurricanes and other natural disasters. In early 2013, more than 15,000 reverse mortgages in Florida were in default, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Florida Housing expects ELMORE to help about 2,500 households, with an average payout of $10,000.
To qualify for ELMORE, homeowners must have suffered a hardship, such as emergency medical expenses or home repair costs related to natural disasters. And they need to show that once they get caught up on past due property charges, they have the financial wherewithal to make future payments. ELMORE provides an upfront, forgivable two-year loan of up to $25,000. The money is used to pay past-due expenses and also can be used to pay those expenses going forward for up to 12 months. And, as part of the application process for ELMORE, seniors will be given a free “benefits checkup” to see if they might qualify for other assistance to help with the cost of food or medicine, for example.
Fannie Mae is working with its reverse mortgage servicers to notify eligible homeowners in Florida about ELMORE. In addition, we are contacting senior homeowners, with loans owned by Fannie Mae, directly about the program.
Homeowners can find out about their eligibility and apply for ELMORE funds by calling 800-601-3534. This application/information line is open and staffed with live certified ELMORE advisors Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). More information also is available at www.FloridaELMORE.org or KnowYourOptions.com/reverse.
We commend Florida for being the first state to implement a program to assist senior homeowners in reverse mortgages with resources from the Hardest-Hit Fund and hope to see other states soon follow suit.
Senior Vice President of Making Home Affordable® and Foreclosure Prevention
November 26, 2013
The views expressed in these articles reflect the personal views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of any other person, including Fannie Mae or its Conservator. Any figures or estimates included in an article are solely the responsibility of the author.