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Why You Might Not Have to Participate in the Coming Florida Home Insurance Rate Hikes

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unemployment fund
Image by USDAgov
From across the horseshoe shaped town of Pikeville, KY, various buildings, parking lots, temporary walkways, and above ground construction of the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) expansion project, on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, in Pikeville, KY. After months of infrastructure construction and rain delays, one of Kentucky’s largest American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects is under way. The .6 million Community Facilities Loan will finance construction of a new medical office building and parking garage. The new medical office building will house outpatient surgery, endoscopy, surgical support and provide exam, waiting and office space for 23 primary and specialty care physicians. It also will contain a medical research center to support existing research – in conjunction with Pikeville College – on health disparities, genetic research related to the prevalence of cancer and other areas, including drug and treatment trials. The new parking garage with more than 1,000 spaces will be built adjacent to the new medical building, eliminating the need to shuttle patients back and forth from remote parking areas. The new garage will provide closer and easier proximity to medical and hospital services for all patients.
Wayne Rutherford, County Judge-Executive for Pike County, says funding from ARRA is a boon for his county because it will create jobs.

“This is great for Pike County’s economy. We know we have a great hospital, and with this support, it will be even better,” said Rutherford. “The unemployment rate here is above the state average and this will stimulate jobs. There will be construction, which means lots of jobs on the front end – and even more once it is built.”

Pike County is one of Kentucky’s persistent poverty counties and the current medical facility provides health care services for a rural population of more than 68,000. This project will create 1,430 direct and indirect construction jobs, in addition to 97 long-term jobs. It is scheduled to be completed in December 2012.

“This project is a prime example of the ARRA monies being utilized for much-needed health care facility expansion in an economically-depressed region of Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia,” said Tom Fern, State Director for Rural Development in Kentucky. “This hospital has received national recognition for its quality of care, and this money will allow them to expand and build upon their success and continue providing quality health care services to the region.”

PMC was named National Hospital of the Year by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers in November 2009. The hospital was among 400 elite health care facilities to apply for this prestigious honor. To earn this recognition, PMC competed against more than 400 hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, the John Hopkins Hospital, Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, the Cleveland Clinic, Duke University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University.

Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn said the medical center is the largest employer in Pikeville and contributes nearly million to the city through the payment of occupational taxes. He went on to say that Pikeville Medical’s success is also the city’s success because as other cities struggle with dwindling revenues, Pikeville has actually seen growth.

“This is a regional medical center that is very important to the city. Pikeville is a legal, financial and education hub for Eastern Kentucky and a gateway to rural communities in Virginia and West Virginia. There are half a million within a 50-mile radius – so it’s not just local people that depend on this facility,” said Blackburn. “From a regional standpoint it adds volume from a jobs standpoint. Everybody in this county knows someone or has family that works for Pikeville Medical Center.
“People in this area used to have to go out of the area for good jobs and quality medical services, but Pikeville Medical has changed that,” added Blackburn. "And it has impact on other parts of the city’s economy – hotels, restaurants and retail. It increases the quality of life tenfold.”

The Recovery Act was designed to spend money gradually over time in order to sustain a true recovery – with peak spending to occur early this year. While the experts agree that ARRA is already responsible for creating or saving approximately two million jobs, about 75 percent of recipients that reported on their Recover Act spending indicated their projects are less than half complete, meaning there is even more job impact from those dollars to come.
USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Recent Florida insurance legislation signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist was a necessary step required to strengthen the stability of the Florida Property Insurance system. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation will be able to raise rates by as much as 10% per year until the premiums they charge more closely reflect the risks the company is taking. Private Florida home insurance companies will also be permitted to charge more to cover the additional reinsurance they are expected to buy in the private market instead of from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

The good news is that if Florida can continue the recent history of limited hurricane activity, the entire Florida insurance system should become stronger financially in the coming years – something that has to happen to improve the chances that most Florida home insurance companies can make good on their promise to pay your hurricane claim quickly and fairly.

The bad news is the fact that all of us will be facing up to a 10% increase in Florida homeowner insurance rates. A rate increase of 10% might not sound like much of an increase in other states but in Florida the situation is much different. These increases come on the heels of significant rate increases that followed the 2004/2005 hurricanes. Even before the coming 10% increase, consumers in Florida were already paying the highest home insurance rates in the country.

The timing of the rate increases is not good either. To begin with, Florida is in the middle of a financial crisis just like the rest of the country with depressed real estate, bankruptcies, foreclosure, and increases in unemployment. These rate increases will also be occurring right around the same time that State Farm Florida will begin shedding up to 30,000 policies per month as the company exits the Florida home insurance business and begins cancelling policies. Our subscribers who presently have their insurance with State Farm are telling us that finding comparable coverage with another Florida home insurance company may cost them up to 200% more after they lose their coverage with State Farm.

So where does that leave you as a Florida home insurance consumer during these difficult times?

First you have to understand that while there are only about 40 Florida home insurance companies still writing new business, if you shop around you have a good chance of finding 5-10 companies that are still willing to cover your home – even if it is older or close to the coast.

It is very important for you to shop your Florida home insurance policy with more than one independent agent – someone who represents multiple Florida homeowner insurance companies looking for your business. Contacting multiple independent agent will ensure that you are able to get quotes from all the companies in your county who want to cover your home – not just the companies represented by a single agent.

In addition, you have to research the Florida home insurance companies that you are considering. The 40 companies still writing new business are very different in terms of their size, financial stability, number of years of experience in the business, and customer service history. It is important that you ask your agent how each of the companies you are considering is performing in each of these areas.

As you come up with a short list of companies, work with several independent Florida insurance agents and make sure that you have received quotes from all the companies in your county that are interested in covering your home. As you evaluate the quotes, don’t buy the Florida insurance for your home simply on price. Find the right balance between strong financials, good customer service, and price. After all, what good is a low price on a Florida home insurance policy if the company is going to take forever to pay your claim at a value that won’t begin to repair the damage your home will sustain after a Florida hurricane?

There is no doubt that the recently approved Florida home insurance increases are going to be difficult to absorb and the timing couldn’t be worse. However, if you take the time to find all of the Florida home insurance companies that are interested in covering your home, you might be able to fight off all of the 10% increase while everyone else has to pay up. Your research can save you thousands!

Michael Letcher is a corporate executive and a licensed Certified Public Accountant. His on-line guide can help you find affordable Florida insurance. Get all the secrets to low cost Florida insurance in his free newsletter at =>
http://www.homeinsurancebuyers.org

I didn’t get time to get the first part with the news article up here is one link . There was so much cash in the EI fund like God was preparing us now its gone?

http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/04/15/13602696-qmi.html

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Overview of Florida Hardest-Hit Fund and Eligibility Criteria

King Hiram Lodge No. 566 Toronto Reception – V.W.Bro. Richard T. Morell G.S. and R.W.Bro. Lew Crocker P.G.S.W. (23) see info below
unemployment fund
Image by antefixus21
A memorial display for well loved and respected Right Worshipful Brother Ed Dyer which included a portrait taken when he was Worshipful Master of King Hiram Lodge in 1952 as well as his Masonic Regalia. He recently laid down his Working Tools and passed to the Grand Lodge Above. The bright Masonic Light that he shone in so many Masonic bodies will be sorely missed.

The Beginning
In the year 1920, immediately after the first World War, there was a great influx into Masonry and a group of Masons from the Willys Overland plant (a pioneer and manufacturer of the Jeep 4 wheel drive vehicle) situated in West Toronto, feeling there was a need for a new Lodge in this area, formed themselves into a committee for that purpose.

This group was headed up by W. Bro. W.L. Abernathy of Stanley Lodge # 426, Toronto and ably assisted by W. Bro. W.L. Clark and Bro. J.G. Bruce, both of Victoria Lodge, Toronto.

Having fulfilled all the necessary requirements, the Institutional Meeting of King Hiram Lodge, U.D., G.R.C., was held in the Annette Street Temple on April 29th, 1920.

After the dispensation, the Most Worshipful, The Grand Master, M.W. Bro. F.W. Harcourt authorized W. Bro. W.L. Abernathy and Charter Members to meet as a Lodge to be known as “King Hiram”.

On the 15th day of November, 1920, the Lodge was duly instituted and consecrated. W. Bro. W.L. Abernathy was installed in the Chair of King Solomon and the Officers were invested to their several stations in King Hiram Lodge #566, on the register of Grand Lodge.

The name “King Hiram” was selected as being the most suitable to fulfill the hopes of the petitioners which was to build a strong Lodge appropriately named after King Hiram Abif the chief architect and overseer of the building of King Solomon’s Temple.

It was resolved that the Initiation Fee be set at $ 75.00, the Affiliation Fee at .00 and the Annual Dues at .00. The Tyler’s salary was set at 0.00 per year.

The Worshipful Master appointed a Visiting the Sick Committee, a Musical and an Entertainment Committee. A committee to set up the by-laws, a committee to arrange for a Ladie’s Night and a committee to arrange for and provide Christmas Entertainment.

The first candidate to be initiated was Mr. John Rutherford on June 4th, 1920.

The Work for the year consisted of 42 – E.A. Degrees, 32 – F.C. Degrees and 19 – M.M. Degrees.

The Twenties

The first King Hiram Ladie’s Night was held in the form of a reception in the banquet room. An honorarium was established to pay the Secretary 0.00 per year for his services. A special emergent meeting was held on Saturday, February 8th, 1922 to conduct 15 Master Mason Degrees which beat the previous record by one Degree. The Worshipful Master and brethren attended at the laying of the foundation stone at the Weston Masonic Temple. On March 19th, 1924, W.M. B.H. Capsey had the pleasure of initiating his son, Vincent Bertram Capsey into the First Degree of Masonry. It was adopted that the Lodge present to each candidate the Volume of the Sacred Law on which his obligation was sealed. An annual picnic was held at High Park. A committee was appointed to request the Temple Board to install a pipe organ in the Lodge Room and a piano in the Banquet Hall. King Hiram visited Niagara River Lodge in Niagara Falls, New York and on a return visit the Worshipful Master of Niagara River Lodge presented our Lodge with a gavel which had been made from a piece of oak from the Old Fort Niagara.

The Thirties

A new Lodge was instituted in the Annette Street Temple, named Memorial Lodge, in which many of the members of King Hiram were involved. W. Bro. Gordon James is installed as Worshipful Master being the first Master of King Hiram who was initiated into the Lodge, all others being Charter Members. Grand Lodge institutes an “Unemployment Bureau” under the Masonic Board of Relief due to the economic circumstances. In May 1935, we celebrated our 15th Anniversary. The creation of a Members Night was established and the ruling Master and W. Bro. Gately of Memorial Lodge conducted the Ceremony. In 1936, Ladies Night was postponed due to the death of King George V and the Grand Master requested a three month mourning period be observed. In 1938, with deep regret we recorded the death of W. Bro. W.L. Abernathy one of the founders and the first Master of King Hiram Lodge.

The Fourties

It was resolved that the dues of all members enlisting in the Armed Forces be waived.

To support the war effort, Grand Lodge inaugurated a Fund for War Relief to be contributed to by members at large through the various Lodges. King Hiram purchased 3 0.00 Victory Bonds and a further purchase in the amount of 0.00. Past Master, W. Bro. Fred Adams was honoured by the King as a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his work in the supply of munitions. It was decided to send Christmas gifts to our members in the Forces. Bro. S.D. Shaw is installed in the Chair of King Solomon and initiates his son, Duncan Shaw and W.A. Bruce son of Bro. J.G. Bruce, the first Secretary of our Lodge. In 1945, we celebrated our 25th Anniversary. Our Grand Master requests us to hold a Thanksgiving Service for our victory in Germany. Bro. R.F. Wright is installed in the Chair of King Solomon. November 1st, becomes known as “Charlie Tottle” Night due to his reaching his 80th birthday and also for his long service to the Lodge. Bro. C.V. Tottle was elected Secretary in 1926 and served until his death in 1950. Bro. Wm. McBurnie returns to Lodge after serving 7 years overseas in the Armed Forces. W. Bro. Wm. Gow is appointed Grand Steward. Installation Night changes from January to December due to the continual bad weather conditions in January. It was approved that the Tyler’s pay be .50 per meeting.

The Fifties

W. Bro. E.D. Magett appoints Bro. Joe Kemp as Chaplain and Bro. Doug Wright as Ass’t. Secretary. R.W. Bro. Floyd Albertson is honoured for his 23 years of service as Treasurer and his work in the Lodge since its inception. Bro. A.E. (Ed) Dyer is installed in the Chair of King Solomon. Two minutes silence was observed in respect to his late Majesty, King George V1.V.W. Bro. S.D. Shaw was congratulated and presented the Regalia of Grand Steward. Meetings and discussions were held regarding the division of Toronto District A. At Grand Lodge it was decided to split the district into two districts, A1 and A2, to take place in 1955. A donation was presented to River Park Lodge to help in the rebuilding of their Temple due to the damage suffered by Hurricane Hazel. In July, 1955, Grand Lodge celebrated its 100th meeting. An open air service was held at Exhibition Park with over 2,500 in attendance. Mr. R.J. Elrick is initiated into King Hiram Lodge. V.W. Bro. Bill Gow presents V.W. Bro. Archie Wright with his Regalia of Grand Steward. Bro. Joe Kemp is installed in the Chair of King Solomon, his father Bro. J.T. Kemp presents a gift on behalf of the family.

The Sixties

Bro. Doug Wright is installed in the Chair of King Solomon by his father ,V.W. Bro. Archie Wright. This is the first time in the history of the Lodge that a father has installed his own son. The Metro Police Team confers the E.A. Degree on Mr. Robert N. Wilson. V.W. Bro. Archie Wright presents Grand Steward Regalia to V.W. Bro. Reg Wright. King Hiram members and ladies initiate visitations to William S. Farmer Lodge #1109 in Syracuse, New York. Mr. Lewis Crocker passes a Board of Trial and is accepted as a candidate for Initiation. W. Bro. Sam Wright is Installed in the Chair of King Solomon. Dues increase to .00. Father and Son night featured Johnny Bower of the Toronto Maple Leafs. W. Bro. A.E. (Ed) Dyer is elected D.D.G.M. of Toronto District #1. The following year Father and Son night featured Leo Cahill, coach of the Toronto Argonauts. Bro. Robert Elrick presents a D of C wand to the Lodge in memory of his father, Bro. Robert Elrick Sr.

The Seventies

In 1970 we celebrated our 50th Anniversary. Father, Son and Daughter night featured entertainment and movies. V.W. Bro. Archie Wright passed to the Grand Lodge Above. V.W. Bro. Bill Gow, 41 years a Past Master of King Hiram is the first member to receive a 50 year service pin. Bro. Sam Hough of Danville, California visits and later affiliates with King Hiram after moving to Toronto. Bro.’s Lloyd Lemoine and Ernest Roy Imrie receive 50 year pins. Bro. Arnold Sinclair continues to deliver profound lectures when presenting the Candidates Bible. Father and Son night features Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Lodge members enjoy memorable cruises with Bro. Bill Rhyme aboard the “Lomar”. Visitations with King Hiram Lodge #37, Ingersoll are initiated. Visitations continue which result in the creation of the King Hiram Friendship Gavel. The Rt. Hon. Chief Justice James C. McRuer of King Hiram Lodge receives a 50 year pin. Dues increase to .00. Bro. James Rushford Sr, is presented a plaque for his service to King Hiram as Chaplain and his 57 years in Masonry. V.W. Bro. Joe Kemp is appointed Grand Steward. Bro. Ron Padgett entertains regularly on the organ with great talent, artistry and his well known humour.
The Eighties

Our 60th Anniversary. V.W. Bro. Doug Wright is appointed Grand Tyler and is presented with his fathers regalia, V.W. Bro. Archie Wright. Bro. Aubrey McGill is presented a plaque for his devotion as Chairman of the Benevolent and Sick Committee. V.W. Bro. Joe Kemp and V.W. Bro. Doug Wright are honoured for their many years of service as Secretary and Treasurer of the Lodge. Members Night tradition continues with Bro. Henry Strackholder being Initiated. King Hiram makes a donation to the Barbara Turnbull Fund. W. Bro. Ernie Morrison is appointed as Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. Annual dues increase to .00. W. Bro. Robert N. Wilson is honoured and presented his Grand Steward Regalia by W. Bro. George Owttrim. A year later V.W. Bro. Robert N. Wilson is presented a plaque in recognition of his service to Masonry and King Hiram Lodge. The first District Walkathon takes place and proves to be very successful. W. Bro. Alistair Clement initiates his son, Mr. Graham Clement into King Hiram. Bro. Aubrey McGill is awarded the prestigious William Mercer Wilson Award. M.W. Bro. William R. Pellow, Grand Master attends the Installation Ceremony of Bro. Edward Grinko being placed in the Chair of King Solomon. King Hiram hosts the District Education which features St. John’s Lodge #209 from London, Ontario. King Hiram hosts a special Appreciation Night for all Past D.D.G.M.’s of Toronto District #1.
The Nineties

Bro. Tom Thompson visits from Scotland to share the Installation Ceremony with his brother, W. Bro. Hugh Thompson. W. Bro. Sam Wright is honoured and presented with the Regalia of Assistant Grand Secretary. Bro. Rick Morell is Installed in the Chair of King Solomon. King Hiram donates 00.00 to the Runnymede Chronic Care Hospital Fund. W. Bro. Sam Hough passes to the Grand Lodge above. R.W. Bro. A.E. (Ed) Dyer is presented a 50 year service pin. Bro. John Kikiantonis is awarded the Canada 125 Year Award Medal. W. Bro. Edward Grinko launches the district newsletter, “The Blue Print”. W. Bro. Robert Langzik and Bro. Aubrey McGill pass to the Grand Lodge above. V.W. Bro. Robert Wilson is appointed Grand Lodge Representative to the Grand Lodge of Utah. Memorial Lodge #652 affiliates with King Hiram Lodge. W. Bro. Lew Crocker is appointed Grand Steward. W. Bro. Rick Morell serves a second term as Worshipful Master. Bro. Earl Walsh is Installed in the Chair of King Solomon. In 1995 we celebrate our 75th Anniversary. A full year of celebrations and activities is planned including a Gala Anniversary Dance. Bro. John Kikiantonis is Installed in the Chair of King Solomon by V.W. Bro. Sam Wright who substituted for W. Bro. Edward Grinko due to the death of his wife. 50 year pins are presented to V.W. Bro. Doug J.B. Wright, V.W. Bro. Ed Wilkings, Bro. George Cowie and Bro. John Cholmomdeley. 25 year Past Master pins are presented to W. Bro. Proctor, R.W. Bro. Ed Dyer, V.W. Bro. Joe Kemp, V.W. Bro. Doug Wright, V.W. Bro. Ken McLean, W. Bro. Fred Twitchin, Sr., V.W. Bro. Sam Wright, V.W. Bro. Bill Hunter and W. Bro. Doug Kelman. W. Bro. Earl Walsh is Installed in the Chair of King Solomon for a second time by W. Bro. Lew Crocker. The following year Bro. Bill Wingrove is Installed in the Master’s Chair by W. Bro. Earl Walsh. V.W. Bro. Sam Wright is also Installed as Worshipful Master for his second time, 32 years later and initiated Bro.’s Scott Hoy, Ben MacDonald and Dusty Markle. We were saddened with the passing of V.W. Bro. Doug J.B. Wright to the Grand Lodge Above. W. Bro. Rick Morell is Installed in the Chair of King Solomon by W. Bro. Hugh Thompson.
A New Millennium

2000 – 2005

Bro. Aaron Williams is Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason. A special night and reception is held for R.W. Bro. Earl Walsh who was elected D.D.G.M. of Toronto District #1. Bro. Ken Mullings is Installed in the Chair of King Solomon by his friend and mentor, W. Bro. Hugh Thompson. V.W. Bro. Hugh McKnight is made an honourary member of the Lodge. A reception is held to present W. Bro. Robert Elrick with his Grand Lodge Regalia. Mr. Stephen Brode is Initiated into King Hiram Lodge. A special meeting is held at Central Park Lodge to congratulate Bro. Imrie on his 102nd Birthday and his 80 years a Mason. W. Bro. John Kikiantonis is Installed as Master for a second time and also re-accepts the Office the following year. W. Bro. Kikiantonis enjoys the honour and pleasure of Initiating his son, Emmanuel into Masonry. Mr. Andrew Adamyk is Initiated into King Hiram Lodge. A memorial was conducted for V.W. Bro. Robert Elrick and R.W. Bro. Robert Wilson who passed to the Grand Lodge Above. V.W. Bro. Bill Hunter receives his 50 year pin. W. Bro. Hugh Thompson passes to the Grand Lodge Above. W. Bro. Edward Grinko is Installed as master for a second time and enjoys the distinct pleasure of Initiating his son, Christopher. Mr. James Berry is also Initiated into Masonry. The Secretary’s honorarium is raised to 0.00. V.W. Bro. Ed Wilkings is made a life member of King Hiram Lodge. W. Bro. Rick Morell is Installed for the fourth time as Worshipful master. King Hiram Lodge is now in its 85th year. Mr. Daniel Berube and Michael Bonner are Initiated and Bro. Antonio Texeira is Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason. A special evening was conducted for W. Bro. Ken Mullings to celebrate his retirement and his return to Jamaica.
The intervening years between 1920 and 2005 have been momentous years of change in the History of the World.

Consider the Twenties, an era of building following World War I. The Depression of the Thirties. The conflict and hardship encountered due to World War II. The united efforts of rebuilding throughout the Forties and Fifties. The social changes and struggles throughout the Sixties and Seventies. The boom of the Eighties, the recession of the Nineties and the dreams and expectations of a new Millennium.

The years have also seen many changes in King Hiram Lodge. We have witnessed and shared in the lives of many of the Men who have been instrumental in the creation of and continuation of our Lodge.

Throughout the years the spirit of Masonry has always been kept alive and we have at all times remembered the wishes of our Founders, to uphold the basic principles on which the Lodge was established, “to keep this a friendly Lodge and to show true Brotherhood to All”. Our strength in the past has been in the dedication, loyalty and respect, for our Lodge by the many men who have affixed their signatures to our By-Laws.

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

footprints on the sands of time

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

* Reprinted from the King Hiram Lodge #566 “Consecration Night” Booklet, November 15, 1920

The Florida Hardest-Hit Fund program was recently unveiled to help residents of the Sunshine State who are struggling to pay mortgage installments. Offered through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, this program offers assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure.

The Florida Hardest-Hit Fund offers two programs including: Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Program (MLRP) and Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMAP). MLRP is designed to help residents that require financial help to pay off past due loan payments, while UMAP offers assistance to homeowners who are unemployed or underemployed.

While this program offers financial assistance to help Floridians avoid foreclosure, many who need help the most do not meet qualification guidelines. Florida Hardest-Hit Fund eligibility criteria include three categories and applicants must qualify for each. These include: property eligibility, household eligibility, and mortgage eligibility.

Another consideration is that mortgage servicers can deny applicants’ requests even if they meet all eligibility criteria set forth by the Hardest Hit program. This program does not guarantee bank approval, so homeowners should contact their lender and determine if they participate in the program and if their application will be accepted.

Oftentimes, bank loss mitigators handle applications for Hardest-Hit funding. Homeowners who are currently in preforeclosure have most likely been assigned to a loss mitigator. If not, homeowners will need to contact their lender to discuss the application process.

In addition to the three categories, homeowners must meet eligibility criteria of nine factors and two exclusions. Applicants must be a legal citizen or legal alien of the U.S. and a Florida resident. The property must be used as their primary residence.

Homeowners that apply for help through UMAP must be unemployed or underemployed. Their pretax household income must fall 140-percent below Florida’s median income level, which was last reported at $ 45,631. Overall mortgage debt must exceed 31-percent of total household pretax income.

Florida Hardest-Hit Fund requires all applicants to hold a checking or savings account that allows ACH payments to be debited. Homeowners who have filed personal bankruptcy or convicted of a mortgage-related felony within the past 10 years will not be accepted into the program.

FHHF only offers assistance for owner-occupied residential properties. These can include: single family residences, townhomes, condominiums, mobile or manufactured homes, or dwellings consisting of up to four units; one of which is occupied by the homeowner.

Hardest-Hit funds are only offered to qualified homeowners whose mortgage servicer is participating in the program. Default payments cannot exceed 180 days past due. The balance on the first mortgage cannot exceed $ 400,000 and the loan must have originated on or prior to January 1, 2009.

Florida homeowners can apply directly at the Florida Hardest-Hit Fund website at FLHardestHitHelp.org. Prior to submitting applications, homeowners should organize financial records and have access to total household wages, past due balances on first and second mortgages, bank account and routing number, and current personal tax return.

UMAP provides up to $ 12,000, while MLRP provides a maximum of $ 6,000 to qualified applicants. Funds must be used to resolve past due payments of the first mortgage.

Homeowners who find applying for Florida Hardest-Hit Fund confusing or uncertain if they will qualify may find it beneficial to obtain HUD housing counseling. This program offers complimentary counseling services to homeowners facing foreclosure. However, government budget cuts may make it inaccessible in the near future, so those in need of help should take advantage of services while they can.

Simon Volkov is a California real estate investor who writes about current events within the market. Topics include: Florida Hardest-Hit Fund, Short Sale Act of 2011, Mortgage Standards Reform, and the scandalous ForeclosureGate. Stay abreast of current trends by visiting www.SimonVolkov.com.