2007 Finalist
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards

In the early 1980s, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was experiencing a severe recession and a sharp downturn in economic activity. For many homeowners it became increasingly difficult to continue paying their mortgages, making widespread mortgage foreclosures likely. In December of 1983, the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency (PHFA) launched the Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) to provide temporary mortgage loan assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure.

The HEMAP model insures that homeowners who have failed to make their mortgage payment for 60 days will receive information on the HEMAP program from their mortgage lenders. Upon receiving this notice of HEMAP's resources, homeowners must contact one of the PHFA's eighty approved counseling agencies to schedule an in-person meeting. Financial counselors then help homeowners prepare an application for mortgage assistance to be submitted to PHFA that is evaluated based on: financial hardship of the homeowner due to circumstances beyond their control, favorable mortgage credit history, and reasonable prospect for resuming full payments within 24 months. If approved, Pennsylvania homeowners may receive up to 24 months of loan disbursements, made directly by HEMAP to lenders on the owner's behalf, not to exceed $60,000.

Since its inception, HEMAP has saved over 37,000 homes—approximately 143,600 Pennsylvanians—from foreclosing on their homes. The HEMAP model is now being replicated elsewhere, keeping homeowners in other states from losing their homes. In the summer of 2004, a pilot program based on HEMAP was implemented in North Carolina. The North Carolina Home Protection Program and Loan Fund, administered by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, offers loans to unemployed homeowners at zero percent interest for eighteen months or up to $20,000.