Underwater’ mortgage aid program expands to Washington, Clackamas counties

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A program to help underwater homeowners lower their payments and avoid foreclosure is expanding to Washington and Clackamas counties. (The Associated Press)

Elliot Njus | enjus@oregonian.comBy Elliot Njus | enjus@oregonian.com 
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on November 12, 2013 at 11:28 AM, updated November 12, 2013 at 3:14 PM

 
   
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A state refinancing program for “underwater” homeowners is expanding to Clackamas and Washington counties.

The Rebuilding American Homeownership Pilot Program refinances mortgages for homeowners who owe more on their loan than their home is worth, lowering their monthly payment or letting them pay down their loan more quickly. It was first opened to Multnomah County homeowners in June.

The program — a pilot for a broader refinance program proposed by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. — designed to reach homeowners whose loans aren’t eligible for the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program because they’re not insured by the government-sponsored loan giants Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Most conventional lenders won’t refinance underwater mortgages because they are at greater risk of foreclosure.

Homeowners who enroll in the program can refinance into a 30-year loan with a fixed rate of 5 percent, or a 15-year loan at 4 percent. It’s designed to be self-sustaining, with the interest on the refinanced loans covering the cost of any defaults.

The program is administered by the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department and paid for with funds from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund. Oregon received $220 million through the program to pay for foreclosure aid programs. 

For more information or to apply, go to OregonHomeownerHelp.org.

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