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Housing mortgage rescue, trust fund programs available to local homeowners, renters
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Kershaw County government officials recently forwarded information from the S.C. State Housing Finance & Development Authority (SC Housing) on programs it has available which may be helpful to homeowners and those left unemployed or with a reduction in income due to October’s historic flooding.

These resources should be used after homeowners have applied for assistance from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The two programs are SC HELPS, the state’s mortgage rescue program, and the S.C. Housing Trust Fund, which provides financing for affordable rental housing and homeownership for state residents with low incomes.

Concerning SC HELP, those experiencing a loss of incomes should apply at www.schelp.gov or call 1-855-435-7472. Homeowners need not be behind in payments to apply, and there is no fee required at any point in the SC HELP process.

Those seeking an affordable place to rent, or those with affordable rental property to list, can go to www.SCHousingSearch.com, a free internet-based resource provided by SC Housing. It allows affected residents to search for rental housing across the state based on their needs and budget. Call 1-877-428-8844 for more information (Spanish-speaking operators are available).

SC Housing declared a foreclosure moratorium Oct. 5 for loans in its portfolio statewide for 90 days. This means foreclosure will not be initiated during this period and loans currently in foreclosure will have foreclosure actions suspended until the end of the period.

Persons having difficulty making payments should contact SC Housing to make payment arrangement at (803) 896-9521.

“If you are unsure your mortgager is through SC Housing, check your coupon book; it will specify the name of your mortgage servicer,” SC Housing officials said in a brochure.

SC Housing will also suspend negative reporting to credit bureaus during this period. Homeowners with a SC Housing mortgage can reach out to SC HELP for potential assistance with their mortgage payment.

The S.C. Housing Trust Fund strives to ensure all citizens have access to safe, decent, sanitary and affordable housing. Created in 1992, it is funded with money collected from a portion of the state’s documentary stamp tax (20 cents per $500 on real estate sold).

Eligible beneficiaries (those at or below 50 percent of the area’s median income) can access the program through approved nonprofit sponsors. Trust fund applications and manuals can be found on SC Housing’s website. Potential sponsors must submit a separate application for each activity.

Elgible activities include emergency repairs (up to $6,500), owner-occupied rehabilitation (up to $22,500), rental development (up to $200,000 through an annual application cycle) and supportive housing (provides the lesser of $300,000 or 75 percent of total development costs).

Housing trust staff evaluate all applications and make quarterly recommendations for approval at SC Housing board of commissioners meetings. Most applications must receive board approval in order to receive an award.

SC Housing is self-sustaining and operates at no cost to South Carolina taxpayers.

For more information, contact Ayesha Driggers at (803) 896-9248 or by email, Ayesha.Driggers@schousing.com.

--Martin L. Cahn, editor