Some local housing agencies are seeing a rush for help this week, as Ohio's Hardest Hit Fund finally opens its doors. ideastream®'s Rick Jackson reports the demand hasn't slowed, and Wednesday, the program received a huge boost from Washington.
When the feds "Hardest Hit" fund was introduced, Ohio residents didn't qualify for help. That decision was appealed, then reversed, and Ohio eventually gained $320 million, to help the out-of-work... or the about to be out-of-work… stay in their homes.
Then - Wednesday afternoon, the Obama administration gave Ohio an additional $249 million, saying it would bolster and expand the reach of those programs.
The need is clear, says the United Way's Steve Wertheim. The agency's 2-1-1 "First Call for help" line received 138 calls for assistance in less than three days of operation.
50 calls to 2-1-1 were from Cleveland, but the majority were scattered across the suburbs, from Euclid and Shaker Heights to Lakewood, plus calls from Medina, Wayne, and Geauga Counties.
Wertheim says there is a distinct difference in 2010 requests for help; compared to a year ago.
"Folks we're getting calls from now are no longer folks who I would call victims of predatory lending - the calls we're getting now are people who used to be able to pay their mortgage, and because of lack of employment - are not able to."
His numbers do not include direct calls to other area housing agencies, reachable through the federal 800-SAVE THE DREAM phone line.
A majority of calls sought direct mortgage assistance to head off default, but about a third of callers were already in default and seeking counseling help to get back on track.