Make us your home page

Hardest-Hit glitch bounces out homeowners hoping to slash mortgage debt

A Florida Hardest-Hit Fund technical glitch Wednesday morning turned away underwater homeowners hoping for a chance to cut up to $50,000 off their mortgage debt.

A state website said the fund's new $350 million principal-reduction program reached its limit of 25,000 applications only seconds after its 9 a.m. start.

Officials say the glitch began on a server used by a state website contractor. It has since been corrected, and homeowners can still apply.

Jayne Lisbeth, who said she has never missed a payment on her "underwater" home in Tampa's Seminole Heights, prepared all her documentation Tuesday night and was at her computer exactly at 9 a.m. when the website told her it was no longer accepting applications.

"I was almost in tears," she said. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, how is this possible?' "

After half a dozen tries, she was finally able to submit an application. But she worried what would have happened if she wasn't able to get in: "I probably would have just given up."

The program will give an average of $35,000 to about 10,000 Floridians who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. State officials will accept a starting pool of 25,000 applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

To qualify, residents must be current on a mortgage they signed before 2010 that has less than $350,000 in outstanding debt. They must owe more than 25 percent over the home's market value — say, $250,000 in loan debt for a home now valued at $200,000 — and meet household income requirements.

Officials say they don't know when the fund will meet its application cap, but even with its tight restrictions the program could see stiff competition.

The 10,000 payouts will cover less than 1 percent of Florida's underwater homeowners. Tampa Bay alone has 200,000 underwater homes.

By 2 p.m., state officials said they had received more than 7,000 applications, with nine streaming in every minute.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or

.Mortgage help

How to apply

"Underwater" homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments can apply for the Florida Hardest-Hit Fund Principal Reduction Program at For more information, call toll-free 1-877-863-5244.

Hardest-Hit glitch bounces out homeowners hoping to slash mortgage debt 09/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  2. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  3. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride


    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  4. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]
  5. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa


    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Daniel Lipton became the artistic director and conductor of Opera Tampa in 2012. Lipton replaced the opera's only previous director, Anton Coppola, who retired. [Times file (2012)]