By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
For those senior homeowners who are delinquent on their real estate taxes and possibly facing foreclosure, help is on the way, thanks to the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s (IHDA) Hardest Hit Fund Reverse Mortgage assistance program which will provide $35,000 to help seniors stay in their homes.
According to Bathsheba Draper, a homeowner consultant, the program, which pays homeowners’ past-due payments, future taxes and insurance for up to two years, is funded through the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
However, Draper made it clear that “if their taxes were bought, this program will not buy them back, but if they are delinquent, this is an opportunity, if you qualify, to make yourself whole again for the next two-years. This is an excellent opportunity for seniors who may have fallen behind in their property taxes due to medical expenses, to get caught up with their taxes and remain in their homes,” said Draper. “Life has a way of altering our dreams and aspirations. This is a pro-active program.”
According to IDHA Executive Director Audra Hamernik, “There is a real need for this kind of assistance in Illinois. Many of these seniors are on fixed incomes and took out a reverse mortgage to help with healthcare or every day living costs.
“They don’t have the resources to weather an unexpected home repair, medical event or loss of household income. This program offers the help they need to get back on track with their payments before they lose their home,” said Hamernik.
Reverse mortgages allow homeowners who are 62 and older to borrow against the equity they have built up in their homes. The proceeds the borrower receives from the reverse mortgage must be repaid when the house is sold or the homeowner moves, according to Hamernik. The borrower is still responsible for paying property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, and if they are unable to keep up with their payments, they may lose the home to foreclosure.
To qualify for this program, homeowners must have taken out an FHA reverse mortgage secured to a property located in Illinois, and experienced a qualifying hardship. They must live in the property as their primary residence and have a household income lower than 120 percent of their county’s median income, or $73,920, for a household of two in Cook County.
To begin a free application for up to $35,000 in assistance, homeowners should call one of the following housing counseling agencies:
- H.O.M.E. DuPage, Wheaton, 630.260.2500
- CCCS of Northern Illinois, Woodstock, 815.338.5757
- Mortgage Education Foundation, Palos Heights, 708.761.6264, East Hazel Crest, 773.329.4222,773.Chicago, 2609 W. 63rd St., 773.434.9632
- Neighborhood Housing Services, Chicago, 2609 W. 63rd St., 1279 N Milwaukee Ave., 773.329.4010, Elgin, 847.695.0399
- Northwest Side Housing Center, Chicago, 5233 W. Diversey Ave., 773.283.3888
- Restoration America, Inc. Crystal Lake, 847.783.0232
- Will County CCC, Joliet, 815.722.0722
Homeowners may fill out their applications online at: www.illinoishardesthit.org. For further information, call: 855.873.7405.