Hardest hit fund to expand to more states

As part of an effort by the federal government to help consumers across the country struggling with mortgage payments and the threat of foreclosure, a key program is set to begin running in 18 states.

The Hardest Hit Fund, which was unveiled by President Barack Obama last year, aims to assist lower-income families as well as underemployed workers and help them stay in their homes.

By March, a number of states are expected to launch full or pilot versions of the program, USA Today reports. Alabama recently implemented its Hardest Hit Fund, extending as much as $15,000 annually to consumers who qualify. The government pays the money directly to the lender.

California, the largest recipient of federal funding, is expected to announce the full implementation of the program after a pilot version was unveiled in January. The state will be given almost $2 billion to help its struggling homeowners, the news source says.

Some experts believe the program does not go far enough. For example, Nevada, one of the states that has been most affected by the recent housing market downturn has 400,000 households that could be eligible. However, its version will only help an estimated 22,000 residents.