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DCA offering mortgage funds

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Newly appointed state Department of Community Affairs board member Rick Muggridge obviously has no intention of using his position simply as a pad for his resume.

After setting up a meeting with area DCA representative Dean Nelson shortly after Nelson was hired, Muggridge -- himself only recently appointed -- passed along information Tuesday about a DCA-sponsored "Hardest Hit Fund," which offers mortgage payment assistance to help prevent home foreclosures.

The funds are part of the federal stimulus program.

"I set up a meeting with Dean and asked him to help me understand where the (DCA-sponsored) opportunities are for Southwest Georgia," said Muggridge, a member of the Lee County Board of Commissioners who announced the program at a commission meeting Tuesday. "My goal (as a DCA board member) is to bring positive change to Southwest Georgia.

"We've got to do things to give our children reasons to stay here. If we don't change the environment here, our community's going to dry up and blow away."

To apply for help from the Hardest Hit Fund, Georgia residents must be currently unemployed, currently substantially unemployed or currently able to make mortgage payments but fell behind while they were unemployed or underemployed.

Applicants also must:

- Be owners of the property;

- Be legal residents of Georgia;

- Be unemployed (or underemployed) because of an involuntary separation;

- Have been current with mortgage payments prior to unemployment;

- Have mortgage payments that are greater than 31 percent of current monthly household income;

- Not have an IRS or Georgia tax lien;

- Not have an active bankruptcy;

- Not have liquid assets exceeding $5,000;

- Not have been convicted of a mortgage-related felony in the last 10 years.

Property requirements include applicant ownership, must be primary residence of applicant, must be single-family home, mortgage debt of not more than 125 percent of the property's value and an unpaid principle balance of $417,000 or less.

"When I asked (Nelson) how we could have an impact in our region, he gave me the paper with the information (about the fund)," Muggridge said. "And while stimulus money doesn't necessarily agree with my politics, the money is there and it's available."

Information about the Hardest Hit Fund is available at the Department of Community Affairs' website at www.dca.ga.gov.