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Refinance Program for Underwater Homeowners Expands

Refinance Program for Underwater Homeowners Expands

The Rebuilding American Homeownership Pilot Program (RAHAPP) is now available to homeowners in Clackamas and Washington Counties. RAHAPP is administered by Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (OHCS) and was developed with the support of Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley to help underwater homeowners with high interest rates refinance. The program was previously only available to homeowners in Multnomah County. RAHAPP has already helped participants lower interest rates and reduce their monthly payments by an average of $427.

RAHAPP aims to help homeowners who are trapped in high-interest loans and underwater (owing more than their homes are worth) to refinance their loans. These homeowners are not eligible for the Federal HARP refinance program because their loans are not owned or insured by Fannie or Freddie, and therefore have little to no ability to refinance. The pilot is based on a proposal Senator Merkley introduced in a July 2012 white paper called Rebuilding American Homeownership, which can be read at:

<http://merkley.senate.gov/download/?id=8605ab4d-47d9-44ae-8415-6ab18e9d3773>

"Current programs have been frustrating for homeowners who are underwater and not eligible for HARP," said Senator Merkley. "This pilot tests a different approach. If successful, it could be a win-win, substantially lowering homeowners' monthly payments and thereby reducing the risk of foreclosure. Moreover, the homeowners would have more funds to spend on other needs, strengthening their families and the local economy. Finally, the program has the potential to pay for itself. If it works, I hope it can be expanded to help underwater families across Oregon and in other states. I applaud OHCS for piloting this different approach."

"We are excited to partner with Senator Merkley on this innovative program, and to now be able to offer it to homeowners in Clackamas and Washington Counties,"said Margaret Van Vliet, Director of the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services. "RAHAPP provides assistance to a population that is otherwise not served, and we are glad that they will have the opportunity to gain some much needed relief."

Initially, RAHAPP will allow approximately 60 underwater homeowners who are current on their payments refinance into a 30-year fixed rate of 5.0% (5.077% APR) or a 15-year fixed rate of 4% (4.129% APR) to refinance. There will be no up-front or monthly mortgage insurance payments required for RAHAPP loans.

Interested homeowners in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties are encouraged to visit the RAHAPP page at

<http://www.OregonHomeownerHelp.org>

for information, an eligibility quiz, and an online application. Homeowners will be able to submit applications online or in person through OHCS' partner, Alpine Mortgage Planning, a Division of Pinnacle Capital Mortgage Corporation.

RAHAPP is funded by the U.S. Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund, a program designed to aid homeowners in states hit hardest by the economic crisis. Oregon Housing and Community Services administer Hardest Hit Funds through the Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI), which to date has provided more than $105 million in assistance to more than 8,500 homeowners.

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