Illinois housing agency offers help to underwater homeowners

CHICAGO (AP) — A new program will help some Illinois homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages to refinance and reduce the amount of money they owe.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority announced Tuesday that Illinois will be one of two states starting a refinance program using federal funds.

IHDA Executive Director Audra Hamernik says the help is needed because some neighborhoods haven’t recovered from the 2008 housing crisis.

She says the program offers “a lifeline” to struggling communities.

The program will begin Aug. 1.

To be eligible, homeowners must meet certain income requirements and owe more on their home than its market value.

The program provides up to $50,000 in federal funds to erase a homeowner’s negative equity. They may then refinance into a more affordable, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.