Rainy Day Foundation Provides Some Sunby Tim Manni
As Federal officials plead with the nation’s top banks to increase their participation in President Obama’s Making Home Affordable program, smaller and more localized efforts are reporting their own success.
The Rainy Day Foundation, “a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist individuals in maintaining homeownership,” has teamed up with participating lenders, real estate firms, and home builders to fund their Homeowner Education and Loan Protection (HELP) program. Rainy Day established HELP 19 months ago “to create and maintain responsible homeownership.”
MSNBC’s “Consumer Man,” Herb Weisbaum, says “If you’re ready to buy a house or refinance your mortgage, you should know about the foundation.”
More than 125 companies across the U.S. have teamed up with Rainy Day. While homebuilders like Texas’s Main Street Homes enroll each one of their buyers in the program, participating lenders offer the complimentary mortgage-protection plan as part of a purchase or refinance. HELP is designed to educate and assist homeowners during their first two years of ownership — the time period that Rainy Day suggests is the most financially trying for new homeowners.
According to the non-profit, “Most homeowners add significant debt related to the home during the initial two-years of homeownership. Most homeowners spend their financial reserves required for loan approval within the first 60 days of homeownership.”
Besides offering pre and post-purchase counseling, HELP offers job loss protection as well as emergency funding. If you lose your job the organization will make up to six monthly payments of $1,800 each. One Kentucky couple was even approved for an emergency mortgage payment of $3,000 after they had fallen behind on their payments and their bank was threatening foreclosure. While MSNBC states that the job loss protection is money that doesn’t have to be paid back, it doesn’t state whether or not the emergency funding needs to be.
Words of Advice
Programs such as HELP should never stand in the place of careful financial planning and responsible homebuying. Establishing a significant amount of savings to cover both the expected costs (furniture, appliances, remodeling) as well as the unexpected costs (emergency repairs, unemployment, injury) that can accrue during the early years of homeownership is paramount. While these types of programs can offer you temporary peace of mind, they can’t shield you forever.
The Rainy Day Foundation says its HELP program has counseled, educated and financially assisted more than 15,000 homeowners since 2008. This year, the program is projected to provide more than $8 million in mortgage grants.
Readers: If you’re in need, who are you more likely to seek help from, the government or these types of localized efforts?