Money for people facing foreclosure goes unspent

Fewer than 1,000 receive assistance

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ATLANTA — Millions of dollars in a fund intended to help unemployed Georgia homeowners avoid foreclosure have gone unspent, even as 12,000 residents get foreclosure notices each month, records show.

More than a year ago, the state got nearly $340 million in federal funds to help
unemployed Georgia homeowners avoid foreclosure, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Since the official launch of HomeSafe Georgia’s in April 2011, the state has awarded $23 million, helping fewer than 1,000 Georgians keep their homes.

Critics and supporters of the program say the state has failed to adequately market the program.

And of the people who have applied, too few meet the guidelines the state established.

“We are doing good things, but could be helping a lot more people,” said Phil Foil, the deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

“If we had to do it over again, we’d probably look at our marketing … and figure out how we’d get the word to unemployed folks quicker and better.”

Later this month, the DCA will partner with U.S. Representative Hank Johnson, a Democrat, for a HomeSafe foreclosure prevention expo, officials said this week.

The agency is also planning a mass mailing to unemployed Georgians. The state is also considering broadening the eligibility requirements.

The program receives about 400 to 500 applications a month, with about a 20 percent approval rate, Foil said.

He’d like to see upwards of 1,000 applicants monthly.


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