First, they helped the renters. Now, Cobb’s governing board will consider lending a helping hand to the county’s homeowners.
West Cobb Commissioner Keli Gambrill has proposed using $5.7 million in CARES Act money to fund a grant and counseling program that would help Cobb homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage due to the pandemic.
The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on the proposal Tuesday evening at a special-called meeting.
If approved, it would mark the board’s second stab at using CARES Act money to keep county residents in their homes. In June, the board approved $1.5 million in aid to certain renters facing eviction.
According to Gambrill’s plan, homeowners who apply for a slice of the money will have to prove they lost a job or 20% of their income due to the coronavirus. Applications will be reviewed by homeownership advisors certified by nonprofit HomeFree-USA.
Those who lost a job, fallen behind on their mortgage payments and since returned to work will be eligible for a one-time payment of up to $4,800.
Those who are still unemployed or underemployed will be eligible for up to three months worth of mortgage payment assistance (not to exceed $4,800) as well as counseling.
“Both independent and government studies have shown that when engaged at the onset of a crisis, homeownership education and counseling reduce the odds of foreclosure by 42%,” notes a county document outlining the proposal. According to the document, such counseling could include “making (homeowners) aware of the options and/or programs available to them base(d) on their personal circumstances and type of loan, negotiating with lenders on their behalf, assistance with preparing and submitting packages for loan modifications and/or principal reductions.”
Of the $5.7 million, $4.8 million would be available to county homeowners; $150,000 would go to HomeFree for “program setup, marketing and outreach”; and $750,000 would go toward professional services.
As with other county programs funded by the CARES Act, the money must be spent in 2020 or be forfeited.