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Foreclosures have started to rise. A new local program could help homeowners

Red and white "Foreclosure, Home for Sale" sign in front of a stone, wood house that is for sale and is being foreclosed upon by a financial institution. Green grass and bushes indicate the spring or summer season. Front porch and windows in background.
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Foreclosures increased dramatically as a result of risky subprime loans during the 2000s.

The expiration of some federal pandemic aid, rising inflation and a cooling housing market could put some homeowners in a tough spot. But a new program aims to help.

Homeownership Center of Greater Cincinnati President and CEO Rick Williams says the Housing Stability Program is about addressing problems before the foreclosure process begins.

"If you are a homeowner and you're concerned about your ability to make your mortgage payments — or especially if you're already behind — the time is now to react to that," he says.

The program connects at-risk homeowners with state and federal funding. The Homeownership Center is also working with two prominent banks to help some homeowners access potential mortgage restructuring, or more time before to sell before foreclosure proceedings.

The program can help homeowners access up to $25,000 in federal CARES Act funds administered by the state of Ohio.

"The state of Ohio has funding available that actually pays for those payments you have past due," Williams says. "It's not common that this sort of thing is available."

Hamilton County also has federal mortgage aid funds to distribute.

Foreclosure rates nosedived during the pandemic thanks to foreclosure moratoriums and federal pandemic aid funding. They are still relatively low, but creeping back up as those programs expire. Meanwhile, the cooling-off of a previously historically hot housing market and rising inflation have made it harder for some households to make their mortgages.

A July study from real estate analysts Attom Data Solutions found foreclosure rates in the first half of 2022 were just a point shy of their pre-pandemic levels. That report said that Ohio was third in the nation for foreclosures in that time period.