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      Federal money available to struggling homeowners

      With more than 30 percent of single family homes in foreclosure or pending short sale, the economic crisis cuts deep in the Myrtle Beach area housing market. In order to give some much needed relief to those struggling with foreclosure, the U.S. Treasury gave South Carolina $300 million to assist homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

      "I've seen sales increasing, but prices are still on the decline," said housing expert Tom Maeser.

      Prices continue to decrease because the number of foreclosures keeps increasing.

      A year ago when Horry County resident Dorine D'Agostino started to miss work to take care of her 92-year-old mother, she lost her job .

      The bills piled up and soon her bank wanted to foreclose on her home.

      "It's my little piece of heaven," said the 60-year-old D'Agostino of her home. "It's hard because you think so this is what happens when you turn sixty. But now I have hope."

      She found hope in a U.S. Treasury program called SC HELP(South Carolina Homeownership and Employment Lending Program).

      SC HELP (South Carolina Homeownership and Employment Lending Program) assists what the SC Housing Corp. calls "responsible borrowers." These are homeowners who have a good payment history and find themselves facing foreclosure because of circumstances beyond their control, including job loss, divorce, death of a spouse or medical expenses.

      D'Agostino first heard of SC HELP through the mail. She then found SC Legal Services, a group that provides assistance with SC HELP.

      Netti Eaddy is a counselor for the group that last month assisted 129 people with getting caught up on their mortgages.

      "We've had applications where people are asking for over $20,000 for help. The program does assist to up to $36,000 state wide," said Eaddy.

      A person whose house is in danger of foreclosure can receive help with monthly payments, loan assistance and transition assistance when the mortgage is unable to be resolved.

      The program gives out loans with zero percent interest that are forgiven at a rate of 20 percent a year. If the homeowner continues to live in their home for five years, their loan will be forgiven. If they sell the home before that time, a percentage of the loan must be paid back.

      "I can remember the morning when I called my borrower. She was having a down morning that day and when I gave her the news, she was started crying. I started crying on my end. It is just wonderful. It's great joy."

      The transition assistance is a one-time grant that is paid directly to the homeowner to help move from the foreclosed home to a rental property.

      You can apply online at or call 1-855-435-7472.

      Do you believe this program will help the struggling housing market?