A national housing swoon is eight years in the past, and foreclosures are declining precipitously. Yet Family Services Inc. in the Charleston area continues to see a need for a special program to prevent people from losing their homes.
The North Charleston-based nonprofit financial and housing counseling group says it handled 69 homeowner applications in 2015 totaling $1,682,277 in assistance via SC Help, or about $24,680 an application.
Since starting its involvement in SC Help five years ago, Family Services has provided $14,174,343 to assist 780 homeowners, or about $18,170 per owner.
According to Family Services, the organization “is dedicated to helping homeowners all over South Carolina and will continue to have a positive impact on the community.”
SC Help got its start after the housing market’s skid, which grew from a steady fall in 2007 to the bottom falling out in 2008, Family Services notes. “Housing prices plunged and household net worth dropped, which reduced consumer spending,” the organization points out.
By 2009, there were more than 3 million foreclosure filings nationwide, the group says. With South Carolina’s jobless rate at the time rising above the national mark for 12 months, the state became a part of the Hardest Hit Foreclosure Initiative, according to Family Services. “SC Help was created to help responsible South Carolina homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments and stay in their homes during hard financial times,” the nonprofit says.
Via SC Help, Family Services can give a boost to home owners facing tough times paying their home loans. The assistance is delivered through 0 percent interest, forgivable loans. There is no cost to apply. “As long as residents continue to live in the home, the loan will be completely forgiven after five years,” Family Services says.
Hard-pressed mortgage holders must meet eligibility requirements, such as unemployment, underemployment, medical hardship, divorce or death of a spouse, the organization says.
In a related service, Family Services offers free “foreclosure prevention” clinics at its main office weekly and at outlying centers periodically.
“During the clinic you can receive help modifying your mortgage, lowering your interest rates and monthly payments and becoming current on your mortgage,” the group says.
The workshops are available as follows:
• Family Services, 4925 Lacross Road, Suite 215, North Charleston — 9 a.m. Mondays and 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.
• Berkeley Prosperity Center, 325 Main Street, Moncks Corner — 1:30 p.m. on the third Friday of the month.
• Dorchester Prosperity Center, 222 Old Trolley Road in Summerville — 10 a.m. Wednesdays.
Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.