EHLP succeeded against the odds
In a sea of bad news, there is some good news. The Emergency Home Loan Program (EHLP) has helped more than 2,000 PA homeowners facing foreclosure, through no fault of their own, get the help they need.
Yes, this program had problems. Depending on who you believe, the legislation was poorly written or HUD dropped the ball.
Instead of playing the blame game, Pennsylvanians came together, reached out through a wide network of housing counselors, the United Way, social service providers, churches, local government, even realtors and builders, and made a flawed program work. Because instead of letting politics get in the way, they – we – focused on the real issue – helping homeowners in distress.
If you only rely on the newspapers for information, you might think that every time the government gets involved in trying to address foreclosure, the effort is a failure. Perhaps one failure is in the reporting which not only fails to distinguish between state, federal administration and legislative governmental entities but reports only on the comparison between projected goal and outcome, a simplistic view of a complex problem.
Last week when “EHLP” ended it had indeed fallen short of its initial goals. Yes, it was plagued by implementation problems at HUD especially, who in turned blamed Congress. And yes, once again, the newspapers reinforced the notion that another program had failed. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/hud-program-to-help-struggling-homeowners-falling-short/2011/09/21/gIQAW22pmK_print.html
The Rest of the Story
But there’s more to the story. Another “governmental entity,” the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, PHFA, did a yeoman’s job of implementing EHLP and getting needed help to over 2,000 homeowners (so far) who would otherwise have lost their homes.
This is the story that did not get told. Housing Counselors, elected officials, the United Way, realtors, builders and PHFA all worked together feverishly to get the word out about the program. All hands on deck.
Nearly 7,000 homeowners in distress applied for help during a 5 month period.
PHFA still has 2,000 or so applications in the pipeline. Just a few weeks before the most recent deadline, flooding from Irene and Lee shut down Harrisburg. So PHFA is asking Congress to extend its artificial deadline to give them a little more time to process the applications sitting in house to verify the circumstances of the applicants, and just maybe, help a few more people who have lost their jobs be able to hold onto their homes.
Politics or People First?
Before you buy into the notion, once again, that government programs to help homeowners in distress are a failure, look below the surface at the full range of facts: EHLP, with all its warts and blemishes, and there are many, helped over 2,000 PA families who are victims of the economy, and more are in the pipeline if Congress will move beyond politics and grant a no-cost extension.
The real answer to the foreclosure crisis is jobs. In the meantime, we have the wherewithal to prevent further weakening of the real estate market and loss of household wealth. Let’s do it!
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