Extension Of Program Offers New Hope For Struggling Green Country Homeowners

Friday, July 22nd 2011, 10:24 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- There's new hope for Green Country families struggling to stay in their homes. A federal program to prevent foreclosure was supposed to end Friday, but the deadline has been extended to help more people.

Hundreds have already applied, but now you have until next week to take advantage of the Emergency Homeowner's Loan Program.

From the fence to the old-fashioned lamp post to the two-car garage, Larry Johnston has poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into his home of eight years... only to see it slipping away.

"Everyday is a struggle. You learn how to cut back on everything," Johnston said.

Johnston says he's worked all his life, toiling in the Oklahoma oil fields, until the hard work caught up with him.

"Off and on, I've had problems with it for six years. And then it just, all of a sudden it started going downhill. And I couldn't walk across the room," he said.

An open heart surgery and a triple bypass later, and Johnston just can't do what he used to. He says he now makes in a month, what he used to make in a week. And he and his wife have fallen behind in their mortgage.

"We saved back and did everything possible to try to own a home. And now that we've got it… it's trying to fall through our fingers," Johnston said.

Federal housing officials are trying to help people like the Johnston's. They're extending the deadline for the Emergency Homeowners Loan Program.

It offers homeowners who are at least 90-days behind on their mortgage a $50,000, interest free loan.

To qualify:

• The home has to be your primary residence.
• You can't be delinquent on any federal loans or in the middle of bankruptcy.
• You have to have made less than $75,000 in 2009, and be currently unemployed or under-employed because of the economy or a medical condition.

Johnston says he and his wife aren't looking for a handout; they just need a little help until they can find work.

This is a loan, but if you follow all the rules it will be forgiven at the end of five years. The new deadline is Wednesday.

Several local organizations, including the Tulsa Urban League or the Tulsa Credit Counseling Centers are helping folks with the paperwork.