Cleveland had the highest foreclosure rate in the country in the first quarter of 2022.
Ohio homeowners who are struggling to stay afloat because of the pandemic may qualify for special assistance.
A U.S. Foreclosure Market Report in April found foreclosure filings were down 8% from March, but still 160% higher than at the same point in 2021. Ohio has the third-highest rate, with one foreclosure filing for every 911 housing units.
Shawn Smith, executive director of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, said the Save the Dream Ohio Program can help eligible households facing foreclosure, or struggling with other housing costs.
"A lot of individuals have either lost their jobs or had a loss in income-earning potential," Smith recounted. "And therefore have difficulty either paying their mortgage, property taxes, heating bill, electric bill, those kinds of things."
Households may qualify for up to $25,000 to be used over six months for delinquent or future mortgage payments, and $10,000 dollars are also available for qualified households to use for paying utility bills, non-escrowed property taxes and other qualified housing costs.
Income eligible for the program is roughly $147,000 dollars for a family of four. Smith noted people can go to savethedream.ohiohome.org
to learn more and apply, or reach out to a local partner.
"One of our partners on the utility assistance side is the Community Action Agencies," Smith emphasized. "Go to our website where you can find a list of those who have partnered with us to provide utility assistance. I would also encourage individuals to get with Legal Aid societies or housing counseling agencies if they're having difficulty making those payments as well. "
The program is using $280 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and will continue through September 2025 or until all available funding is depleted. So far, mortgage assistance has been provided to more than 2,300 households, and utility assistance to about 2,200 households.