Financial Assistance - Utilities and Mortgages
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Wednesday that $40 million is being made available in low cost mortgages to Mississippi hurricane victims. Freddie Mac is the second-largest U.S. buyer and guarantor of home mortgages.
The Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry trade group, has estimated that some 360,000 single-family mortgages in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama were affected by Katrina and the ensuing floods.
The government-sponsored company, which uses bulk purchases of residential mortgages as an investment vehicle, announced this past October that it was working with the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency and the Mississippi Home Corp. to create loans for repairs and home purchases at about 1 percent below market rates.
Qualified borrowers may buy or repair homes in a federally designated Katrina disaster area. Borrowers also can use the loans to buy a house in a different area if they had a mortgage on a principal residence in a storm disaster area as of Aug. 28, the day before Katrina hit.
Gov. Haley Barbour, who was on hand for the announcement, called the money a "welcome injection of affordable mortgage credit'' to help the storm victims rebuild.
Barbour said Freddie Mac and the MHC should be congratulated "for their hard work and commitment to finance the restoration of so many Mississippi homes and neighborhoods.''
Patricia Cook, Freddie Mac's executive vice president of investments and capital management, said the mortgages are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The mortgages are available through participating lenders. (Click here for a list of participating lenders.)
MHC executive director Dianne Bolen said the agency was waiving its usual first-time homebuyer requirement and raising its cap on home repair loans from $15,000 to $150,000.
To be eligible for the new mortgages, borrowers can earn no more than 140 percent of their area median income, Bolen said. Cook said the mortgages should carry a 5.61 percent interest rate for about 350 Mississippi borrowers.
To find out more about the program, click here, or contact the Mississippi Home Corporation at (601) 718-4636.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday it was releasing a $12,466,278 block grant to Mississippi to help families in need pay their home energy bills. The funds are administered by the Administration for Children and Families through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The funding to Mississippi is part of an additional $1 billion in LIHEAP funding approved by President Bush Monday.
The bill reallocates mandatory funds appropriated for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and makes the funds available in 2006 instead of 2007. Half the funds will be spent under the block grant formula and the other half for emergency contingency funding. "These funds will make a positive difference for many low-income families in Mississippi," Secretary Leavitt said. "The Bush Administration is committed to helping people in need meet their increased home energy costs."
The additional funds result in a total of $3.1 billion nationwide already made available in 2006, including a total of $600 million in emergency contingency funding. In addition, the federal government has another $101 million that remains available for crises through the emergency contingency fund.
Each year, almost 5 million low-income households across the country receive LIHEAP assistance. LIHEAP helps eligible families pay for home heating and insulation in winter and cooling their homes in the warmer months. Individuals interested in applying for LIHEAP assistance should contact their local / state LIHEAP agency.