ATLANTA - Would you like free money to pay your mortgage? Well, read on to see if you qualify. There’s $12 million dollars in help out there, but there’s also a hard deadline to apply for it: March 31st, 2020.
But first, let's go back to 2008, 2009. Banks, Wall Street -- they were getting bail-outs, but families were losing their homes, so in 2010 the US Treasury disbursed $2.8 billion nationwide. Georgia's share was $339 million to help prevent foreclosures. Well, there's still $12 million left over in a fund call "HomeSafe Georgia" and if we don't use it, we have to send it back to Washington.
Meet a family who applied for this help, and within 30 days got $50,000. It saved them from losing their home.
MEET JAMES PATTERSON
James Patterson can relax now. But not that long ago, this 79-year-old and his wife of 56 years had filed for bankruptcy. As he told US Congressman David Scott's office, they had been caught up in a predatory lending scheme and would lose their home. They believed him.
“We took the paper work we needed to take. And she said, you look like you qualify for $50.000. I'm not believing this. And this is free money,” James Patterson Sr. recalls.
Not only was it true, he got money from a program called HomeSafe Georgia in 30 days. It's money that saved his Riverdale home.
“David Scott was a godsend, to us.”
“We come up with this plan called HomeSafe,” the Atlanta-area US Congressman told the Fox 5 I-Team.
The 13th district US representative fought for funding in Washington for homeowners struggling to keep their houses after Wall Street tanked. He says the House Finance committee in a bi-partisan plea asked President Obama to provide a safety net for families.
“I explained it to him, as I just explained it to you, you can't solve this by just throwing money up and giving it to the banks without doing something to save the homeowners,” this Atlanta-area democratic says.
Of $2.8 billion tapped for families in homeowner peril, HomeSafe Georgia received $339 million. And homeowners have been dipping into it since 2010 to save them from losing their biggest investment. But this account is about to close.
“We just heard from Treasury and the community affairs department at the state and they're saying the money that has not been spent of that original $339 (million) has to be spent up by the end of March. March 31,” Rep. Scott tells me.
That's $12 million dollars the state needs to spend very, very quickly. If your home has negative equity or is under water you can be eligible for up to $50,000. Here's the criteria: lost your job, under employed, serious illness, or perhaps a lost a partner who helped to pay that mortgage.
To see if you’re eligible, start here on the HomeSafe Georgia website: https://www.homesafegeorgia.com/.
“This money is for Georgians. We do not need to send a dime back to Washington,” Rep. Scott adds.
And Mr. Patterson says, don’t delay. This program saved his home.