Current Issues in Economics and Finance

Help for Unemployed Borrowers: Lessons from the Pennsylvania Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program

Volume 17, Number 22011
JEL classification: E58, E52, G18

Authors: James Orr, John Sporn, Joseph Tracy, and Junfeng Huang

In an environment of high foreclosure rates and distressed housing markets, federal policies are focusing on loan modifications to help delinquent homeowners pay their mortgages. While it is too soon to assess the effectiveness of these modifications, policymakers considering future refinements may gain insight from a more established, state-level enterprise that takes an alternative approach to mortgage relief. The Pennsylvania Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program provides temporary income support to homeowners unable to pay their mortgage during a spell of unemployment. The program has helped most participants retain their homes while paying off their loans—at a potentially lower cost than that of other relief initiatives.

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