Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the country, but for those out of work there is some good news. Wednesday afternoon U.S. Senator Jack Reed joined Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing, announced there will be additional federal funds for unemployed Rhode Island homeowners.
According to a press release, issued by Senator Jack Reed, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Rhode Island Housing today announced that Rhode Island will receive $13.57 million in funding to help unemployed Rhode Islanders pay their mortgages while they seek work. U.S. Treasury awarded the funds to states experiencing high, sustained unemployment, with rates at or above the national average, over the past 12 months (through June 2010). Currently, Rhode Island has the fourth highest rate of unemployment in the nation at 12 percent.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of last week’s news that Treasury approved plans for the distribution this fall of $43 million in Hardest-Hit Funding for Rhode Islanders (HHFRI). This additional federal funding will bring Rhode Island’s total to over $56.5 million.
While Rhode Island was not initially slated to receive HHF funds, Senators Reed and Whitehouse made the case that Rhode Island and other states with high concentrations of unemployment needed additional assistance. As a result, Rhode Island, along with North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and South Carolina were each made eligible for a portion of the $600 million in Hardest-Hit Funding.
Following today’s announcement of the additional $13.57 million, Rhode Island Housing will work with Treasury to develop a plan to distribute the additional funds, thereby helping even more Rhode Islanders keep their homes. As is the case with the $43 million announced last week, these new funds will not be available until the fall – at the earliest – once Rhode Island’s outline of a new program is developed and approved by Treasury.
“Rhode Island has been hit hard by unemployment, struggling small businesses, and foreclosures,” said Senator Reed. “Targeting assistance to states with the greatest needs makes sense, and Senator Whitehouse and I fought hard to include Rhode Island in this program. Instead of working diligently with struggling families to address preventable foreclosures, too many lenders have been unresponsive or slow, and the resulting foreclosures are hurting our community. Rhode Island Housing has developed a plan to expand foreclosure prevention options, and this $13.57 million in additional funding will help many families and neighborhoods throughout Rhode Island.”
“I’m pleased that the Obama Administration has responded to our advocacy on behalf of Rhode Island families and awarded this much-needed funding to help unemployed Rhode Islanders stay in their homes,” said Senator Whitehouse. “By preventing foreclosures, it will also help to stabilize property values and balance city and town budgets. The $13.57 million announced today is great news for Rhode Island homeowners and communities.”
“We are grateful to our Congressional delegation for their steadfast efforts to protect Rhode Islanders and for their vigorous commitment to helping us provide safe, affordable homes. We thank them and the U.S. Treasury for continuing to recognize the depth of Rhode Island’s need and look forward to developing a plan to best utilize these vital funds,” says Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “With our state’s alarming rate of unemployment contributing to our foreclosure crisis, this funding will bring great relief to unemployed homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes.
“The impact of the foreclosure crisis affects all of us,” adds Godfrey. “From homeowners and their families, to tenants left homeless, to neighbors living next to abandoned, frequently vandalized properties, to communities with lost revenues, the positive impact of saving homes will benefit virtually all Rhode Islanders.
“Although these and the earlier-announced money won’t be available before mid-October, it is imperative that those currently in trouble do not simply wait for the funds to arrive,” added Godfrey. “If you are struggling to pay your mortgage, you should contact your lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency right away and stay engaged with them.”
According to Treasury, the additional assistance announced today will be used for targeted unemployment programs that provide temporary assistance to eligible homeowners to help them pay their mortgage while they seek re-employment, additional employment, or undertake job training. States that have already benefited from previously announced assistance under the Hardest-Hit Fund may use these additional resources to support the unemployment programs previously approved by Treasury or they may opt to implement a new unemployment program.
A complete list of HUD-approved counselors is available at www.hud.gov. Homeowners may also log onto www.HardestHitRI.org for updates on HHFRI or call the HHFRI information line at 401 277-1580. For information about other options available to homeowners in distress, log onto www.makinghomeaffordable.gov. The website gives detailed instructions on how to contact your lender or counselor.
For more information about the 13.5 million dollars in additional funds to help prevent foreclosures click here. For more information about additional money for unemployment benefits click here.