Monday, December 21, 2009

HEMAP - circumstances - voluntary hardship - financial overextension

Schrack v. PHFA - Cmwlth. Court - December 21, 2009 - unreported memorandum decision
A homeowner’s voluntary decision which results in financial hardship does not constitute circumstances beyond a homeowner’s control. Cullins v. PHFA, 623 A.2d 951, 953 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1993).
The record here shows that when the applicant refinanced her home in 2006 in order to rebuild it after a fire, her monthly expenses exceeded her net monthly income and continues to do so. The Agency determined that the applicant became financially overextended with the origination of the mortgage and has remained financially overextended since the mortgage origination, and thus that she was not suffering financial hardship due to circumstances beyond her control. Whatever hardship was suffering was due not to her being laid off from work but rather her overextending herself prior to her unemployment.
Her contention that she would be employed soon, as would her fiancé, "cannot be the basis for the agency’s determination, as both contentions are speculative." The Agency is bound to evaluate a petitioner’s eligibility on the basis of her actual income history. Cullins. The Agency here properly considered petitioner’s only source of guaranteed income, unemployment benefits.
"As Petitioner’s income had been, and continued to be, inadequate to support her total housing expense, we conclude that the Agency was correct in determining that Appellant’s financial situation was simply the result of long term financial difficulties and not the emergency situation contemplated by Act 91."

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