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12:31 AM Tue, Nov. 13th

Funds added to fight foreclosures in county

At a time when budgets are tight and state grants are rare, Mohave County has received additional state funds for eviction and foreclosure prevention programs.

The additional $82,000 increases the total grant funds from the state Department of Housing for Mohave County from $193,741 to $275,741 for fiscal year 2009.

The money comes from the state Housing Trust Fund derived from the interest from unclaimed property. No property tax dollars go to the programs.

The economic downturn and housing crisis has struck locally, said Mohave County Community Services Manager David Wolf, "and that additional money is needed here. It will allow us to assist an additional 129 families in Mohave County."

Mohave County's Emergency Housing Assistance Program targets many problems.

"We can do eviction rent," he said.

"If a low-income resident or family has had a financial setback such as loss of a job or illness and yet they show they have enough income to sustain their existence after assistance, we can help them with a back or current rent payment. The same goes for foreclosure situations."

If a homeowner is behind on a mortgage due to the same reasons, we can help. We will also work with people who may be headed toward foreclosure to try and guide them through renegotiation with a lender for a more affordable payment," Wolf said.

"This is a one-time assistance for an individual or family, and the client must show they are capable of moving forward and sustaining their situation. People who have become disabled and are waiting for disability to kick in, we can assist once we are sure they will get their disability and be able to sustain their living. This can also be used to help homeless individuals if they can demonstrate that, with our one-time payment, they can sustain."

Assistance is not just an easy handout, Wolf said. "Case management is a big part of the process. We check on clients' situations. We contact landlords and mortgage companies. We do a complete search on each property, and we do third-party verification of clients' incomes.

"The Housing Trust Fund is an invaluable source of funds and is also used to pay for the administration of getting federal housing grants," Wolf said.

"Typically, we open up the Housing Assistance Program waiting list every month," he said. "We are usually able to assist 15 families out of each of our three locations. Countywide, we have been helping 45 families per month. The key to this one-time assistance program is that clients have to be able to self-sustain."

On the second Monday of every month at 8 a.m., the Mohave County Community and Economic Development Department opens its doors to residents seeking to get on the waiting list at all three locations. Applicants must be at a low-income level, which is designated at 80 percent of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development income median.

Kingman area residents can receive more information by calling Eligibility Technician Sandy Henderson at the County Administration Building, 700 West Beale Street, at (928) 753-0723, ext. 4461.

For residents who are facing possible foreclosure, there is also an Arizona Foreclosure Help-Line handled by the Department of Housing for people in immediate need. According to a state document, "Specially trained mortgage foreclosure counselors are poised to pursue ways for families to avoid foreclosure."

That hotline number is (877) 448-1211.

"We are thankful for the additional foreclosure and eviction prevention funds, as we will put those dollars to good use serving Mohave County residents in need," Wolf said.