Activists seek bank settlement money to bring back HEMAP

Activists in Philadelphia are hoping a mortgage assistance program will get a new life with money from a legal settlement.  

Pennsylvania’s Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) has helped many Philadelphians hold onto their homes when values declined and the housing market crumbled.  Amid state budget cuts, funding was pulled from the program as of July first of last year. 

While testifying at City Council, advocate Michelle Lewis called for reinstating the program with money banks paid to settle charges of improper foreclosures.

 “Beyond the obvious devastating effects that consumers are now subject to since the loss of HEMAP counselors are spending 30 percent more time working with consumers as a result of the absence of the statuary stay on collection and foreclosure that is inherent in the HEMAP program,” said Lewis.

Rachael Blake of Regional Housing Legal Services says the mortgage assistance program saved everyone money in Pennsylvania.

“Between 2008 and 2010 HEMAP helped more than 6,100 homeowners avoid foreclosure and saved between local and state governments, banks and homeowners more than $480 million,” said Blake.

Reinvigorating the program would require support from the legislature and Governor Corbett.

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