Where to Find Help:
If you are currently under foreclosure:
Contact Vermont Legal Aid and put your name on their list. Also, read through the below steps to see what you can start to do on your own.
If you own a CHT Shared Equity home or have a CHT loan:
Contact CHT Shared Equity Specialist Janet Maille. Before meeting with Janet, read through the steps below to see what you can do on your own.
If you are a renter or homeowner (who does not own a CHT/SEP home):
Champlain Housing Trust is not able to provide financial counseling at this time. However, the resources below may help if you are having trouble paying your rent, mortgage, or bills.
STEP 1: Assess Your Situation
- What is your financial hardship? Is it temporary and can be resolved by budgeting and/or temporary assistance? Is it long-term and may require a change to your living situation? To decide, start by looking at your financial situation.
- Determine your monthly net income (post tax) (how much money you make each month) and your essential monthly expenses. Do you spend more money than you make? This budget worksheet may be helpful.
- Can you increase your income or decrease your expenses? Create a crisis budget to help bring costs within your income limits. Here is how to create a crisis budget.
- Prioritize your bills, pay essentials like food and housing first, followed by secured debts like your house and car, and then unsecured debt like credit cards. Tips to manage debt collectors.
STEP 2: Resources That May Ease Your Financial Burden
- Call 2-1-1 and see what utility payment assistance options are available in your area
- Consider asking your utility company for a long-term payment plan. Your local Vermont Community Action Agency can help you.
- Call the medical billing department, stay in touch with them, and try to prevent the debt from going to collections. Medical billing departments are often willing to work out a payment plan with you if you are unable to pay your medical bills. Once your debt goes to a collection agency, negotiations get a lot more complicated. Learn more here.
- Know your rights when it comes to medical bills.
- Vermont Legal Aid has information on what you can do
- Greenpath Financial Wellness is a non-profit debt management and financial wellness organization
- Dealing with debt collectors (very useful!)
- What to know to avoid scams regarding debt reduction and consolidation
- What to know about bankruptcy solutions in Vermont
- FTC article on How to Get Out of Debt
STEP 3: Managing Your Mortage During Tough Times
After you have assessed your situation, trimmed your expenses, and sought out assistance to help reduce your hardship, it’s time to confront your mortgage situation.
Is your hardship temporary or long-term?
If it’s temporary, you may be able to negotiate a “workout option” with your loan servicer. Read through the information and resources below to understand the process and your options.
If your hardship is long-term, and you may no longer be able to afford your home, it is time to start thinking about alternative housing and getting your home ready to sell. Selling in this market can be a good alternative to foreclosure.
Whether your hardship is temporary or long-term, stay in communication with your mortgage servicer. This is very important. Call them and let them know your situation. Write down the name of the person you speak with (they often have an ID number if you ask), and the date and time you spoke, and what was said. Open all mail from your servicer, even if it causes you stress, and read it carefully. If you don’t understand what is being offered to you, call and ask for them to explain it to you. It takes a long time to complete a foreclosure in Vermont, so if you are not in active foreclosure or you are at the beginning of the foreclosure process, you have some time to figure out the best thing for you to do. Resolving a situation where you feel in over your head or overwhelmed is the first step to getting your life back.
Understand your workout options
Be aware, the first option offered by the servicer is one that is most convenient for THEM, for example, asking you to reinstate the loan by paying the past due in full. If you cannot afford an offer like this, the servicer may offer you a different option, such as adding the past due amount to the balance of the loan or deferring the past due amount to the end of the loan. Keep talking with your servicer until you find an option that is manageable and only agree to something you can afford.
Here is a good explanation of the workouts a loan servicer may be able to offer you.
Click here to access a free online tutorial explaining foreclosure and the options that may be available to you.
- Contact Vermont Legal Aid right away
- Understand the foreclosure process and workout options you may have available. Access our free online foreclosure tutorial here.
- Read through all of the information above and start taking action where you can to improve your situation