When Phil Carrell lost his job, he was afraid he would lose his house as well. Without income during his job search, his mortgage payment became impossible to pay.
That’s when he turned to Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund, administered through the United Way of Madison County.
When the housing bubble burst and the economy took a nosedive, many homeowners in Madison County struggled with mortgage payments. The number of foreclosures – not just locally, but across the country – was shocking and created even more problems.
Stepping in to alleviate some of the woe, the U.S. Department of the Treasury established the Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for the Hardest-Hit Markets (Hardest Hit Fund). With $221 million to provide assistance, Indiana targets low- to moderate-income homeowners within the state.
To receive assistance, residents must participate in approved training, education or volunteer work. The United Way matches those who choose volunteer work with agencies that need help.
“We interview and find what they are passionate about,” said Julie Barton, outreach coordinator.
“Some people love the elderly, others love dogs and others love children. We find them a place where they are happiest and most productive.”
Phil Carrell chose to log his 20 hours a month at the Senior Café, which is an outreach of LifeStream, at the Pendleton Public Library. Lunch and activities are provided to seniors. He found he liked the work so much that he logged more hours than necessary and continues to volunteer even though he has found employment.
“(Volunteering at the Senior Café is a) perfect fit for me and, over a short period of time, I have come to find out that working with this program has turned out to be a two-way street,” he said.
Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund has been expanded to include hardships beyond unemployment, including underemployment, medical procedures, death of a household member and military service. Assistance in 2012 totaled $8.9 million dollars to 1069 homeowners while assistance in 2013 has totaled $23.9 million to 2258 homeowners thus far.