June 24, 2016


Deadline nears for mortgage aid

Financially strained homeowners don’t have much more time to get help with their mortgages. April 30 is the deadline to apply for mortgage assistance under the Save the Dream Ohio program.

“The program has been going on here for about two years but it kind of came without warning that it would be cut off so soon,” Medina County Auditor Michael Kovack said.

Save the Dream Ohio, administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, connects homeowners with HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that help families avoid foreclosure.

Kovack said any homeowner who has lost more than 10 percent of his or her income since 2007 as a result of divorce, disability, layoff or cutback, death or medical emergency, can qualify for mortgage assistance.

“They don’t even have to be in arrears,” he said.

“They can be caught up, but in danger of going under because of the hardship.”

Kovack said that since the program began, more than 200 households in the county have been helped with as much as $6 million in mortgage assistance.

Since January, county homeowners have received more than $770,000 in grants.

“We provide the counseling services, including mortgage mediation; but if we can get them in a program with the grant money, we want to get them in that program,” Kovack said. “In some cases, it’s helped pay the mortgage for several months in advance.”

Homeowners may qualify for up to $25,000 for a single program or up to $35,000 for more than one program. The Ohio Housing Finance Agency provides funds from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and NeighborWorks America.

Kovack said his office has worked for the past two years with Cleveland-based ESOP — Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People — an agency that has agreements with most major national mortgage lenders to help mediate mortgages and make it easier for Ohioans to keep their homes.

Kovack could not say why the program was ending.

“These are decisions made at the state level, so I really don’t know why they moved back the deadline,” he said.

Officials from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and ESOP could not be reached for comment Friday.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.