State of Pennsylvania eliminates successful homeownership rescue program

Pennsylvania has shut the door on aid assistance to Pennsylvania homeowners for the first time in the successful 27-year existence of the program known as the Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP). On August 11, a coalition of advocates around Pennsylvania known as the Save Our Homes Coalition will announce a campaign to resuscitate HEMAP and push the State to give assistance for this successful program at a time when homeowners need it the most and the State has just ended the 2010-2011 fiscal year with a $785.5 million dollar surplus[1]. Community Legal Services joins this campaign and urges all our supporters to join the fight to restore funding to this vital program.

Pennsylvania’s HEMAP program was de facto eliminated with this year’s State budget. Although about $2 million was budgeted, this only keeps the program running for on-going assistance, not for any new aid, so no new homeowners will be helped by HEMAP this year. The normal budget for HEMAP is about $10 million.

HEMAP is an emergency loan program launched in the 1980s during an earlier recession. Homeowners apply for this program, and, if approved, HEMAP either pays their delinquency so they can get back on track with mortgage payments, or if the homeowner is still suffering a hardship, HEMAP will pay on their delinquency, but also give “continuing assistance”, to help make mortgage payments for a time ahead until the homeowners’ hardship ceases. But now, with HEMAP defunded:

  • Lenders will no longer have to send an “Act 91” notice to homeowners, which is a preforeclosure notice that keeps a foreclosure from happening until homeowners have a chance to apply and receive a decision for HEMAP;
  • With accelerated foreclosures, homeowners will lose time to negotiate with mortgage companies to get back on track, whether the solution is HEMAP or not;
  • Once a foreclosure is filed, attorney fees and other fees are added to the delinquency, causing it more difficult for homeowners to get back on track. Right now, HEMAP only allows limited fees to be charged a homeowner before foreclosure;
  • Most importantly, homeowners lose the assistance of HEMAP. This program has a proven track record of success and the shuttering of HEMAP will further hurt homeowners and neighborhoods when high rates of foreclosure are still devastating Pennsylvania.

For more, visit the Pennsylvania Save Our Homes Coalition and sign the petition to save HEMAP at


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