In this first post about SC Help, I am going to discuss how the program works. Stay tuned for my next post, which will be about the practical application and some pitfalls of the program.
First, let me say that if you are behind on your mortgage payments or have experienced any of the hardships covered by the SC Help program, it is a good idea to apply for the assistance. And get started early, because it can take a few months to get approved for the funds.
From its inception, South Carolina’s Mortgage Help Fund, also known as SC Help, has focused on providing assistance to homeowners who are facing issues with paying their mortgage as a result of unemployment, under-employment, and self-employed homeowners who have experienced a significant decrease in income. Recently, the program has expanded eligibility to those who have experienced a hardship due to the death of a spouse, divorce, or catastrophic health issues and expenses.
The program could potentially provide assistance with back-owed payments up to $25,000 per applicant, and monthly payment assistance for a maximum of 24 months. The maximum that any homeowner applicant may receive from the program has also increased this year to $36,000.
If a homeowner qualifies, SC Help makes the mortgage payments directly to the bank. The money paid to the bank on behalf of the homeowner is treated as a 5 year loan that is reduced by 20 percent each year that they homeowner continues to reside in the home. Therefore, if the homeowner stays in the home for 5 years after receiving the loan from SC Help, the loan balance will be reduced to zero and will be satisfied. Say for example, though, that the homeowner decides to move 3 years after receiving the funds, then the homeowner will be required to repay the final two years, or 40 percent of the loan back at the closing. And if a foreclosure is unavoidable, the program could potentially provide the homeowner with a grant of $5,000 for assistance to relocate.
Typically, SC Help instructs homeowners to apply through their website, but if you cannot get access to a computer (the county public library offers free computer access), then you can call a representative who can assist you at 1-(855)-435-7472.