5 On Your Side

Foreclosure-fighting program helps the unemployed

Posted November 19, 2009 1:24 p.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2009 6:59 p.m. EST

— The North Carolina Home Protection Program aims to keep workers who lose their jobs in their home.

The program was started about five years ago in the western part of the state to help laid-off textile workers stay in their homes.

It's been expanded statewide to help people like Angela Satterwhite, who owns a home in Knightdale.

"This is my home. There is no co-mortgager or co-signer or anyone. It's just my mortgage," Satterwhite said. "I am very proud of it. It's one of my greatest accomplishments."

The thought of losing the house was devastating, but it became a possibility when Satterwhite was laid off from her job as an investment banker.

"I did everything right that I thought I should do. I worked hard. I paid my bills on time. I earned decent money," she said. "And I really felt that losing my home was just not an option for me. I was going to do whatever I could to try to save my home."

She has been looking for a new job for nearly a year.

"I was one of those people that thought, 'It will be OK. I will bounce back.' And I will, most definitely," she said. "It's just that the matter of time that it has taken me has really surprised me."

Satterwhite got a loan through the N.C. Home Protection Program.

"We want to be able to help those people that are doing what they're supposed to be doing," said Charlene Smith, who oversees the program.

The program offers interest-free loans of up to $24,000 to people who are in danger of losing their homes because of a layoff. The loan is paid directly to the mortgage holder, and the homeowner has 15 years to pay it back.

To get approval, you have to be up-to-date on your payments and not in financial trouble before the layoff. An approved credit counselor will help applicants find which of three different loan programs they qualify for.

"They've just gotten a new job. They probably have some other things they're struggling with. We want to give them that room," Smith said.

Satterwhite said the loan gave her financial breathing room to focus on finding a job, instead worrying about losing her home.

"I feel the program has helped me save my home," she said. "I'm just overwhelmed by the goodness of the program and how it benefited and helped me."

For the N.C. Home Protection Program and Loan Fund, contact your local housing-counseling agencies.

Find out about refinancing and loan-modification help from the federal government for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages by visiting makinghomeaffordable.gov.

Other mortgage help from the state of North Carolina is available by calling 1-888-995-Hope or by visiting N.C.ForeclosureHelp.org