JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - For many Mississippians, the dream of owning a home is now a nightmare.
"Currently we've had 5,000 people that have applied since last May for financial assistance because they've lost their job and are behind on their mortgage" said Ben Mokry with the Mississippi Home Corporation.
Mokry says a new state program should help change that. To help unlock the doors on preventable foreclosures, Attorney General Jim Hood says there's a key.
"Hopefully we'll be able to assist some people in need," said Hood.
Hood helped put together the Mississippi Foreclosure Prevention Consortium. It's made up of state agencies, non-profit groups and community organizations. It was created by $13.5 million, paid out by five major lenders as part of the national mortgage settlement, of which Mississippi was a part.
Of that money, $5.8 million will be used for the program. The rest goes into the state's general fund. Homeowners can call 1-866-530-9572 to find out of they qualify. Eligible homeowners are those who struggled from December of 2008 until December of 2011.
"Anyone that has problems with foreclosures going on now or in the past, they can call that hotline and they will evaluate whether or not you're entitled to tap into one of those pools of money," said Hood.
Hood says even if folks don't qualify for the money, they can still get free legal and homeowner counseling. The consortium will even provide mortgage payment assistance for qualifying members of the Armed Forces. By setting up the program, those involved say it's a way to keep the doors open for home ownership.
"There are so many Mississippians who just lose their jobs and don't pay for six months and get so far behind that they just can't get back up. But if we could renegotiate the loan without having to lose their homes, it really is a win-win for everybody," said Beth Orlansky with the Mississippi Center for Justice.
For assistance through the Mississippi Foreclosure Prevention Consortium, contact the hotline at 1-866-530-9572. Again, the services provided through the consortium include:
- Free HUD-approved housing counseling and individual counseling
- Free legal counsel, advice and representation to homeowners
- Mortgage payment assistance to honorable discharged veterans and currently serving members of the Armed Forces who qualify for veteran status.