HAP logo

HAP, Inc.
322 Main St.
Springfield, MA 01105
(413) 233-1500
(800) 332-9667
TDD (413) 233-1699

HAP is the region's housing partnership for Hampden and Hampshire Counties in Western Massachusetts.

NEWS


SAVE THE DATE: HAPHOUSING'S ANNUAL EVENT

Restoring Prosperity:

The Role of Housing in a Western Massachusetts Economic Recovery

HAPHousing has assembled local, regional, and national leaders for a strategic, half-day conference that promises to be both substantive and forward-looking. Given the critical role housing played in the current recession, we will examine the housing market's vital importance in the economic recovery and revitalization of our region.

Don't miss this conference! Put it on your calendar now.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2009

8:30 to 1:30 PM

The Log Cabin, Holyoke, MA

Opening remarks by Congressman John Olver

Keynote Speaker: Bruce Katz, Brookings Institution.

Bruce Katz, Vice President and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, regularly advises national, state, regional, and municipal leaders on policy reforms that advance the competitiveness of metropolitan areas.

For more information, please call Sarah Page at 413-233-1727.


WONDERING ABOUT THE NEW FEDERAL ASSISTANCE FOR HOMEOWNERS FACING FORECLOSURE?

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S NEW "MAKING HOME AFFORDABLE" PROGRAM

THE FOLLOWING TERMS APPLY TO ALL "MAKING HOME AFFORDABLE" PROGRAMS

  • All homeowners must contact their lenders directly to participate.
  • This new program runs from April 1, 2009 through June 10, 2010.
  • This new program is not automatically given to homeowners at risk of losing their homes. Borrowers must have sufficient income and must meet all program eligibility requirements.
  • There can be no debt consolidation.
  • The owner must have lived in the house for three months.
  • The mortgage must have originated before January 1, 2009.
  • Owner occupied 1-4 unit family homes including condos and planned unit developments are eligible.
  • The loan to value on the first mortgage can not exceed 105%.
  • There is a counseling requirement for homeowners. Although all lenders want homeowners to seek counseling, they are only mandating counseling for clients with a 55% debt to income ratio.
  • All arrearage plus interest, fees, homeowner's insurance, real estate taxes and condo fees will be included in the first mortgage.

HOMEOWNERS WITH A FANNIE MAE OR FREDDIE MAC MORTGAGE MAY REQUEST ASSISTANCE UNDER THE NEW FANNIE MAE OR FREDDIE MAC REFINANCE PROGRAM (call your lender to find out if you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage)

The following rules apply:

  • No temporary income can be used to qualify, such as unemployment income.
  • The program is designed to assist homeowners who are current but are in variable rate mortgages. The program will also assist homeowners who are struggling to pay their variable rate mortgages or homeowners who own property with declined values.
  • The program will correct high interest rates, variable rates, terms of mortgages and balloon payments.
  • On new refinances the homeowner's credit score should be 620, but there may be some flexibility in the credit score if the refinance is in the customer's best interest (Freddie Mac only)
  • There is no minimum credit score required (Fannie Mae only)
  • Borrowers can not have any 60 day late notices on their mortgage history in a 12 month period (Fannie Mae only)
  • Borrowers may only have one late 30 day notice on their mortgage history in a 12 month period (Fannie Mae only)

HOMEOWNERS WITH NEITHER A FANNIE MAE NOR A FREDDIE MAC MORTGAGE MAY REQUEST ASSISTANCE UNDER THE NEW LOAN MODIFICATION PROGRAM. The following rules apply:

IMPORTANT: IT IS STRICTLY VOLUNTARY FOR LENDERS TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS NEW PROGRAM FOR MORTGAGE MODIFICATIONS

  • Owner-occupied homes with 1-4 units are eligible.
  • The homeowner must have a debt to income ratio over 31%.
  • The homeowner must be 60 days delinquent or be at risk of mortgage default.
  • The lender can not charge any fees associated with this mortgage modification.
  • The lender may reduce the homeowner's current mortgage rate by 2% or more.
  • The appraised value of the home will be determined by the lender. The lender will only be using the net value.
  • The goal of the loan modification is to get the homeowner's debt to income ratio as close to 31% as possible, making the mortgage more affordable.
  • When a modification is initiated on a first lien, servicers participating in the Second Lien Program will automatically reduce payments according to a pre-set protocol.
  • Servicers must determine an applicant's eligibility under the "Hope for Homeowners" program and offer than option if viable.
  • The mortgage modification is for a 5 year fixed term. After completion of the 5 year term, the lender can gradually begin increasing the rate at not more than 1% a year.
  • There is a trial period associated with the mortgage modification. The homeowner must make their first three mortgage payments on time before the loan modification is finalized. If a payment is late or missed during the trial period, they forfeit the mortgage modification.

Please call the Western Massachusetts Foreclosure Prevention Center at (413) 233-1622 or toll free (800) 332-9667 x 1622 for more information. Our HUD-certified counselors provide free and confidential assessments for homeowners. If you do not qualify for the programs above, our counselors can help you explore other alternatives.


Afraid you'll never qualify to own a beautiful home?

JOIN THE HOMEBUYER CLUB

Do you need to improve your credit to buy your first home?

Does owning a beautiful home seem beyond your reach?

Do you want to learn about the homebuying process from someone you can trust?

Do you need to improve your monthly budget to meet your expenses and also save for a home?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, the HAPHousing Homebuyer Club can put you on the path to owning your first home. As a member of the club, you'll join other families on a friendly, helpful journey to overcome obstacles and achieve the goal of buying a beautiful new home for your family.

A homebuyer counselor from HAPHousing will guide you through the process, using personal coaching, counseling, workshops and friendly discussion to help you:

  • Learn the homebuying process
  • Establish good money management skills
  • Link to banks and programs that can help you prepare financially
  • Improve your credit
  • Review the benefits of buying vs. renting
  • Tour beautiful homes in Springfield developed by HAPHousing & learn about assistance programs for first-time buyers

This is not a one-day, one-week or even one-month program. It is an ongoing membership that is yours until you achieve your goal. Your homebuyer counselor will help you set your own timeline, identify your next steps and stick with the program until you succeed in buying your first home.

Take the first step today on your journey toward buying a home in a beautiful Springfield neighborhood like this one.

Call Melphy Antuna, Homebuyer Club Coordinator, at 413-233-1731.

Aqui se habla espanol.


AFFORDABLE HOMES FOR SALE

ARE YOU DREAMING ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN HOME, BUT AFRAID TO GET INTO THE MARKET?

Has the news about foreclosures scared you away from the housing market and your dream of homeownership? It's a buyer's market and HAPHousing can help!

HAPHousing is a non-profit that provides services and programs to homebuyers including first-time homebuyer counseling and education, down payment and closing cost assistance, credit counseling and affordable homeownership opportunities. HAPHousing will work with you to ensure that you find a home you love and a mortgage you can afford!

For more information, contact Mel Antuna at 413-233-1731 or mantuna@haphousing.org.

Aqui se habla espanol.


BE READY TO BUY YOUR OWN HOME -- TAKE HAP'S HOMEBUYER EDUCATION COURSE

Dreaming of owning your own home?

It's never too early to begin planning. A series of classes presented by HAPHousing will cover all aspects of buying a home. Specifically designed for first-time homebuyers, the course is certified by the Massachusetts Homeownership Collaborative, Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund, and MassHousing. Completion of the course is required to qualify for certain affordable financing products, such as the Massachusetts Housing Partnership�s Soft Second Loan Program.

Next Sessions for 2009:

  • Thursdays, October 1, 8 and 15 from 6 to 9 PM at HAPHousing, 322 Main Street, Springfield, MA sponsored by Hampden Bank
  • Wednesdays, October 21, 28 and November 4 from 6 to 9 PM at HAPHousing, 322 Main Street, Springfield, MA sponsored by Webster Bank.
  • Mondays, November 2, 9, and 16, 2009 from 6 to 9 PM at the Municipal Office Building, Merrick Meeting Room (first floor), 26 Central Street, West Springfield sponsored by the Town of West Springfield, Office of Community Development
  • Thursdays, November 5, 12, and 19, 2009 from 6 to 9 PM at HAPHousing, 322 Main Street, Springfield, MAsponsored by TD Bank.

Space is limited and pre-registration, including a $10.00 non-refundable registration fee, is required. Please call 413-233-1612 or 1-800-332-9667, ext. 1612.


HOME MODIFICATION LOANS AVAILABLE

Loans (some with deferred payments) of up to $30,000 are available to make access modifications for individuals with disabilities. Homeowners can apply to HAPHousing for funds to construct ramps or make modifications to their bathrooms, kitchens or other rooms to allow people to safely remain in their homes. These funds are available to homeowners in Springfield, Agawam, W. Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, and Westfield.

Please call 413-233-1615 for more information.


BASICS OF RENTAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

An overview of basic residential rental property management in Massachusetts conducted by trainer John Fisher. This workshop is important for all owners of rental properties, including owners of 2-4 family homes. Topics covered include tenant screening, relations with tenants, lead paint laws, types of tenancies, State Sanitary Code, fair housing laws, the eviction process, and how to deal with drug problems.

From 9 AM to 2:30 PM on Saturday, November 14, 2009 at HAPHousing, 322 Main Street, Springfield.

Certificates of completion are awarded at the end of the session; this workshop satisfies the course requirement for first-time buyers of multi-family homes.

HAP's Property Management Manual for Massachusetts Rental Owners , a comprehensive guide to all aspects of residential property management is available for $34.95. Contains a wide variety of sample forms and letters as well as up-to-date information on the Massachusetts laws governing rental property.

Fee is $45. Please call 413-233-1612 to register.


FINANCIAL FITNESS AND FIRST STEPS TO HOMEOWNERSHIP

Are you deeply in debt or living check to check? Would you like to buy a home but know that its not possible because of poor credit or other problems? This series of workshops is designed for you. Among the topics covered are:

  • getting and staying out of debt
  • managing your money
  • building a banking relationship
  • the importance of credit
  • how to avoid predatory lending

This is a series of two classes, Thursdays, December 3 and 10, 2009 at HAPHousing, 322 Main Street, Springfield, MA. Please call 413-233-1612 to sign up.

Sponsored by Hampden Bank


HELP THAT MATTERS

HAPHousing's annual report highlights many people who have bought their first home or fulfilled other goals and dreams with HAP’s help. All of these success stories are possible because of gifts and support from people like you. Here is one story.

Five years ago, Anabel Rodriquez had a young daughter, no daycare and no way to keep a job. She and her daughter, Anialys, lived on $65 a month in child support, food stamps, MassHealth insurance and the cash she picked up from hairdressing.

�I was going nowhere,� she says. �At some point, I realized I needed to do something for myself if I wanted to make a future for us.�

This year, Anabel celebrates her completion of the HAPHousing Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, which she leaves with a good long-term job (five years and counting), college coursework in progress and a $22,431 check to be put toward a home of her own.

What went right for Anabel was the FSS process, which began with a signed contract that articulated her goals and arranged for assistance as she transitioned to self-sufficiency. After resolving her daycare issue, she found a part-time job that eventually turned into full-time. Increasing income was key, because as she did, her rental assistance payment decreased and the difference was automatically deposited in an interest-bearing escrow account. Upon completion of the program, her savings can be used to buy a home or achieve other personal goals.

To HAPHousing Executive Director Peter Gagliardi, Anabel�s story illustrates affordable housing assistance at its most inspired.

�Nothing makes me happier than to write out a check from an escrow account to help someone start a new life,� he told FSS participants at a picnic that marked the �graduation� of many. �The success of this program is because of you,� he told them. �We can help; we can point out a path; but we don�t do the work. You do.�

And so they do. Motivated participants learn to set goals, overcome obstacles, find economic stability and save to meet their goals. For Anabel, the biggest obstacle was childcare. For others, like Delfina, the roadblocks may be poor language skills, low self-confidence, poor credit and the challenge of following through on goals that take years to achieve.

While the FSS program is modest in size by comparison to many HAPHousing programs (100 current participants), the holistic approach creates stronger families whose economic stability is both hard-earned and sustainable.

�This is one of many ways in which we take people wherever they are in their lives and help them move forward,� said Gagliardi. �Our focus is on helping people help themselves.�

HAPHousing helps many people like Anabel change their lives, find better housing, pursue their goals of better education and better jobs. Some eventually become homeowners. But, we need your support to make all of this happen. HAPHousing needs you. Your gift makes dramatic and lasting change in the lives of people like Anabel and her kids. Please consider giving your own personal gift to HAPHousing.

Thank you!

To read more success stories and learn more about HAPHousing, please call Sarah Page at 413-233-1727 for a copy of HAPHousing's annual report.

HAP, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and your contribution is tax-deductible.


PROPERTY MANAGEMENT MANUAL AVAILABLE

This is the how-to book that even seasoned landlords use as their best reference. A practical guide that covers all aspects of property law and practice, including

  • what constitutes a tenancy
  • how to select tenants
  • fair housing issues
  • choosing between a lease and a rental agreement
  • how to handle security deposits, last month's rents and other monies
  • code issues
  • lead paint and other hazards
  • subsidy programs
  • dealing with your tenant
  • record keeping
  • tenants' rights
  • the eviction process

This edition has extensive updates, ranging from lead compliance laws, lease clauses and new regulations to ready-to-use forms in print and on CD. It also includes the complete text of important rental housing regulations and a chapter-by-chapter study guide.

To order a copy at $34.95 each, email landlordbook@haphousing.org or call 413-233-1612.


updated October 13, 2009