LEXINGTON, Ky. (9/12/13)—Making mortgage payments is one of the greatest sources of stress for families when a principal earner loses their job. In Lexington, there are currently 1,174 properties that are in some stage of foreclosure (default, auction or bank owned).
But there’s good news: The Kentucky Unemployment Bridge Program provides options for families with loss of income, and the government grant can pay a participant’s mortgage for up to eighteen months. Over 2,000 families have received assistance through the Kentucky Unemployment Bridge Program in the two years since its inception.
When Kentucky Unemployment Bridge participant Michelle lost her job as a teacher in Eastern Kentucky, her family’s income dropped dramatically. Although for several months, Michelle and her family scrimped and saved, cutting every possible family expense, it became apparent they could not keep up with their mortgage payments and would soon lose their home. Fortunately, a family member told them about Community Ventures Corporation, a community-based nonprofit that exists to improve the quality of life for Kentucky residents.
Michelle and her family worked with a housing counselor at Community Ventures Corporation who evaluated their situation. The counselor determined that since their family income had been lowered by more than 15 percent due to the economy, they were eligible for federally funded assistance through the Kentucky Unemployment Bridge Program. The Unemployment Bridge Program is available for Kentuckians who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. Community Ventures Corporation partners with Kentucky Housing Corporation, Kentucky’s housing finance agency, to help homeowners receive the funds.
Through the program, Michelle’s mortgage was paid for an entire year (program can pay up to 18 months) – giving her time to find another job that would sustain them in the long run and allow them to make the monthly payments. Once she found a job, they even gave her a month’s grace period to help get the family’s finances back in order before stopping payments. Although program funding is technically set up as a loan, it’s certainly no typical “loan.” If Michelle and her family live in the home for five years, they’re not required to pay anything back to the program.
Michelle feels blessed to be a part of this one-of-a-kind program.
“When I was laid off, my husband was still working, so we didn’t qualify for anything – WIC, food stamps, baby formula – nothing; so I was really surprised when we qualified for the Unemployment Bridge Program,” she said. “I am so thankful because even though he made decent money as a teacher himself, there’s no way we could have continued making the mortgage. We would have lost our home.”
Now a year later, Michelle is back to work and things look bright for her family’s future.
The Unemployment Bridge Program needs to be offered as a resource to employees. Michelle urges anyone in her situation to call. “I can’t tell you what a difference it has made to my family,” she said. “It was a difficult time being unemployed. It was such a relief to know the house was paid for -- a roof was over our heads and no matter what other difficulties we faced, we weren’t going to lose our home.”
A common misconception is the Unemployment Bridge Program is based on income level. In fact, eligibility is based on loss of income, not income level. Michelle qualified due to her loss of income. Even if new employment is gained, homeowners who earn 15 percent less than what they previously earned qualify for the Unemployment Bridge Program.
“If you can’t make your mortgage payments, let’s meet to evaluate the situation and find out what other options are available before you lose your home to foreclosure,” said Certified Housing counselor Keysha Cuyler. “This program was designed to help families remain in their homes and work towards a sustainable future. We’re here to serve the citizens of Lexington and the rest of the families in our state!”
“The housing counselors are amazing to work with,” Michelle said. “They were there to help us through every step of the application process. There is a process, and paperwork does have to be completed and submitted, but they were always there to help. And we didn’t even have to go to Lexington – they came to us to complete the final paperwork.”
The Unemployment Bridge program is available to homeowners throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky. Homeowners with reduced income or who have become unemployed in the past three years are encouraged to seek help. Community Ventures Corporation handles the client intake process statewide. “This program gives eligible homeowners much needed time to focus on finding sustainable employment,” said Kevin Smith, President and CEO. “There’s no charge to participate in the program. We encourage homeowners to call as soon as they realize they’re in trouble, and let us explore the various options available to them before it’s too late.”
Michelle added, “We come from a small town where a lot of folks have lost their jobs due to business shut-downs. I tell everyone I know about the program. My brother-in-law’s family just qualified as well – he’s an accountant and has been unemployed for over a year. He is doing everything he can to stay in town to be near his son, so this program is not only saving his home, but keeping a family together!”
For information about the Unemployment Bridge Program, contact Community Ventures Corporation at 1-800-299-0267.
Information provided by Community Ventures Corporation
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