The Hendersonville Standard Blog
The Hendersonville Standard Blog
Help from Keep My Tennessee Home
“Housing has a positive impact on education, health care, public safety, and many other important social issues. Investment in affordable housing is an investment in families and communities.” ~ Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, from a 2010 letter to THDA
This column is about an important – but not widely known – free program for Tennessee homeowners who are having trouble making their mortgage payments due to unemployment or underemployment.
The “Keep My Tennessee Home” program provides forgivable loans of up to $20,000 to unemployed and underemployed homeowners in every county of the state. In several counties, including Bedford, Lewis, Macon, Marshall, Maury, McMinn, Smith, and Trousdale, the program offers up to $25,000 for eligible homeowners.
Please share this “Keep My Tennessee Home” information with friends, families, church newsletters, and community bulletin boards.
Q. What is the “Keep My Tennessee Home” program?
Tennessee is one of 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, where the unemployment rate exceeds the national average. Many unemployed or underemployed homeowners in Tennessee, through no fault of their own, are financially unable to make their mortgage payments and are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.
The U.S. Treasury has established the “Hardest Hit Fund” for Tennessee and these other states with higher-than-average rates of unemployment. Tennessee received $217 million and set up a program to distribute the money called “Keep My Tennessee Home.”
Homeowners who qualify for help may receive up to 18 months of monthly mortgage payments and/or funds to pay past due mortgage payments to bring the mortgage current. These funds are paid directly to the loan servicer/lender.
Q. If I qualify, what is the pay-back arrangement?
“Keep My Tennessee Home” is a 0 percent interest, non-recourse, deferred-payment, forgivable, subordinate loan. The loan is forgiven at a rate of 20% a year. If you keep your home as your primary residence for 5 years, you do not have to pay back the loan.
Q. Who is eligible for help from “Keep My Tennessee Home”?
To qualify for the Keep My Tennessee Home program, homeowners must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- Be unemployed or underemployed (a 50% reduction of income) through no fault of your own (not terminated for cause). The event or incident which results in unemployment or substantial underemployment must have occurred after Jan. 1, 2008.
- Have a mortgage for a single-family home or condominium (attached or detached) in Tennessee that is your primary residence. This includes a manufactured home on a foundation permanently attached to land that you own.
- Have a history of timely mortgage payments, or no more than two 30- day late payments, in the 12 months before the job loss or reduction of income.
- The combined amount of your mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance must be greater than 31% of your household income after the job loss or reduction of income.
- Have less than six months' reserves of liquid assets. This means you have cash and bank accounts equal to less than six months of your mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance.
- Have an annual household income less than $74,980.
- Have a total unpaid principal mortgage balance of less than $226,100.
Meeting these basic requirements does not guarantee eligibility for Keep My Tennessee Home.
Q. How do I apply?
The Tennessee Housing Development Agency is handling this program. Apply on-line at keepmytnhome.org (click on “Get Started”), or call toll-free to 1-855-890-8073 to be referred to a THDA-approved non-profit housing counseling agency in your area that will assist you.
James B. (Jim) Hawkins is a general practice and public interest law attorney based in Gallatin. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. All cases are different and need individual attention. Consult with a private attorney of your choice to review the facts and law specific to your case. Column topic requests may be submitted to Jim Hawkins at (615) 452-9200.