State program helps struggling homeowners - WFSB 3 Connecticut


State program helps struggling homeowners

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Cookie Coleman Cookie Coleman

The hangover from the housing crisis continues.

About 30 percent of homes in Arizona are still underwater, and some homeowners are facing foreclosure.

But, the state's Department of Housing is working to helping people like Cookie Coleman of Phoenix.

"In 2006, I bought this (condo) at $163,000," said Coleman. "In 2007, it went up to $192,000."

In 2008, the bottom fell out of the housing market, and the value of Coleman's condo plummeted.

"My house was worth $44,000," she said.

A few years later, Coleman suffered a heart attack and was forced to quit her high-stress job.

"I bought my home when I was a restaurant manager, and couldn't afford it as a server," she explained.

Coleman and her many pets were about to lose her condo to foreclosure in November 2013, when she discovered Arizona Department of Housing's Save Our Home AZ program.

"They paid $104,000 of the principal of my house and my payment went from almost $800 to $291 a month now," she said.

The money comes from Arizona's Hardest Hit Fund, rolled out in 2010 when the U.S. Treasury Department gave the state $267,000,000.

"The money is here to help people recover from the housing crisis," said Mike Trailor, director of Arizona Department of Housing.

Trailor said the Save Our Home AZ program has spent about $100,000,000 so far - $70,000,000 of that to pay down negative equity.

Other options include having the mortgage paid for up to two years, if you're unemployed or underemployed.

The state might also be able to help you pay off your second mortgage or offer short-sale assistance.

Trailor said applicants must meet income requirements, and the home they need help with must be their primary residence.

"If they don't qualify for our program, we do our best to assist them in any way we can," he said. "We'll call your mortgage company and see if there's a way we can help you."

Trailer encourages homeowners not to give up and to explore all avenues.

Coleman did that and she is now one of about 2,800 Arizonans whose houses have been saved.

"I see a possible retirement now," she said. "I can get health insurance again now. I can even go visit my grandkids now, because I can afford to live here in my home again."

If there's any money left when the program expires at the end of 2017, it will be returned to the federal government.

To find out if you qualify for one of the Save Our Home AZ programs, click here.

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