WISCONSIN — Thousands of Wisconsinites have received assistance from the state’s Help for Homeowners program, but more help is still available, Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday.

WHH launched in March 2022, and thus far, more than 5,400 Wisconsin homeowners have received assistance through the program. WHH, which is federally funded, provides up to $40,000 for Wisconsin homeowners, ensuring people can stay in their homes and avoid facing foreclosure because of “pandemic-related financial burdens.”

“Our Help for Homeowners program has helped thousands of Wisconsin homeowners avoid foreclosure in nearly every county in the state, helping prevent folks from having to choose between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads during a difficult time,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m proud we’ve been able to help so many Wisconsinites make ends meet and want to remind folks across our state that this critical support is still available.”

So far, more than $39 million has been provided to those in need of assistance, alleviating mortgages, utility bills and property taxes.

Wisconsin is the 20th most populous state in the country, and has the 36th highest foreclosure rate nationwide, according to ATTOM, a real estate data company.

ATTOM said Wisconsin’s foreclosure rate this February was 1 foreclosure for every 8,263 households. In Feb. 2023, out of 2,718,369 housing units in the state, 329 were foreclosed on.

“Helping over 5,000 households stay safe in their homes is an exciting milestone for this much-needed program,” said Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld. “We are grateful for Gov. Evers’ commitment to help hard-working families and for our statewide network of partners in administering this program to help Wisconsin homeowners avoid foreclosure and retain safe, stable housing.”   

Still, some Wisconsinites are dealing with threats of foreclosures on their homes — triggered by ongoing inflation issues and rising rates coupled with the aftermath of the pandemic — experts said the situation overall could get worse statewide.

“Foreclosures are not as high right now, which is a wonderful thing,” said Lizz Casey, deputy director of NeighborWorks Blackhawk Region. “A lot of folks right now are still in forbearance plans after all the COVID situations we were having, so we are working with those coming out of those forbearance plans to make sure they’re ready to resume regular mortgage payments as best as they possibly can.”

In Wisconsin, Marquette County has seen the highest foreclosure rates of all 72 counties. Juneau County has the second highest foreclosure rate, followed by Kenosha, Douglas and Clark Counties.

For those facing the threat of a financial crunch and the possibility of losing their home, Casey said taking action early is key.

“My biggest tip here is to be very proactive,” Casey said. “Find out what your current situation is financially, and that would basically be to gather up your current household income and your expenses — make sure you understand what needs to be paid first.”

WHH is open to any qualifying Wisconsin homeowner who’s undergone financial hardship since Jan. 21, 2020. Income parameters impact eligibility.

Payments, which could be applied to “mortgage and interest payments, real estate taxes, lot fees, home energy and other utilities, and other eligible payments,” are made to service providers directly. WHH said it is accepting applications until further notice. To find out if you qualify, click here.

Watch the full interview with Casey above.