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County has help for struggling homeowners, qualified buyers

The Dakota County Community Development Agency has programs available for homeowners having problems making their mortgage payments. It also has help for homebuyers interested in buying bank-owned properties.

The federal Making Home Affordable program was initiated March 4 and offers mortgage relief to homeowners who have fallen behind or who are struggling to make their mortgage payment. Homeowners may be able to refinance or modify their mortgage plan, depending on their situation.

The requirements were only recently made available, and it may take some time before lenders and service providers are ready to accept applications. For program information and eligibility requirements, call the CDA foreclosure intake line at 651-675-4555 to speak with a housing counselor.

The Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program provides free counseling assistance with help for homeowners who are in or nearing foreclosure with referrals to additional resources and in some cases, finance assistance. Homeowners work one-on-one with a CDA specialist to assess the situation and determine possible solutions.

Applicants for this program must be residents of Dakota County and be committed to solving their financial problems with long-term solutions. An application is submitted to the CDA.

The CDA works with the homeowner's mortgage company, gathers information and begins to develop a plan to address the home ownership and financial issues.

The homeowner will meet with one of the CDA's specialists to go over the application in detail and continue the process of developing a plan to resolve the mortgage delinquency.

As a last resort, a one-time limited amount of financial assistance is available to qualified homeowners. These loans are given on a case-by-case basis and are not guaranteed for every homeowner counseled through the program.

The CDA's Silver Lining program may be the answer for some potential homebuyers.

Homebuyers considering buying bank-owned properties could be eligible for a $15,000 loan through the Dakota County Community Development Agency's Silver Lining Loan Program.

The program offers up to $15,000 in zero-percent interest loans to buyers of foreclosed properties in eligible areas of Dakota County. Silver Lining funds may be used for up to 50 percent of the required down payment, the payment of normal and usual closing costs, or buy-down of the first mortgage principal.

Eligible borrowers are homebuyers who qualify for a traditional (A-rated or prime) fixed-rate, first-time mortgage loan and meet the following the income limits: 1 person, $67,950; 2, $77,650; 3, $87,350; 4, $97,100; 5, $104,850; 6, $112,600; 7, $120,400; and 8, $128,150.

To assist homebuyers during the buying process, the CDA is offering Home Stretch Homebuyer Education Program that teaches the responsibilities of owning a house. Topics in these monthly seminars include budgeting and credit issues, financing and qualifying for a home, shopping for a home, the purchase process, closing on a home, and life as a homeowner.

The next sessions are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 16, 18 and 23.

The cost to attend the class is $15 per household for Dakota County residents and $25 per household for nonresidents. To register, contact Rachel Smith at 651-675-4471.