Freddie Mac will offer job search assistance to homeowners in rural communities struggling to make mortgage payments or at risk of foreclosure through its Duty to Serve initiative in partnership with the outplacement company NextJob, the mortgage giant announced Thursday.

“While some parts of the country are benefitting from low unemployment rates, many rural areas continue to see limited opportunities and flattening or declining wage growth,” Mike Dawson, Freddie Mac vice president of single-family affordable lending strategies and initiatives, said in a statement.

“Through our work with NextJob, and by partnering with leading local organizations on the front lines of this problem, we are capitalizing on the success of our past employment programs to help the next frontier of unmet workforce development needs. This partnership will provide meaningful opportunities to create and sustain homeownership for families across rural America.”

The initiative is targeted toward homeowners who already have Freddie Mac Home Possible mortgages, a category of mortgages with 3 percent to 5 percent down for homeowners with low income or in underserved communities. This new arm of the program is also open to people in those categories who don’t own homes yet but aim to buy homes in the future.

Freddie Mac will alert Home Possible mortgage holders to this offering and find out if they qualify. Then the borrower will be eligible for job coaching, webinars and an online job search training program offered by NextJob.

The job search assistance through NextJob will be available to people who have lost their jobs, had their hours cut or otherwise faced setbacks in their work and are struggling to make mortgage payments.

Communities targeted through the Duty to Serve program include middle Appalachia, the lower Mississippi Delta and Colonias at the Texas border.

Freddie Mac first piloted a job search assistance program with NextJob in 2015. Duty to Serve is an initiative from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae fully launched this year to aid manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation and rural housing markets, as required by the Housing and Economic Reform Act of 2008.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Freddie Mac,” NextJob CEO John Courtney said in a statement. “They are on the forefront of exploring ways to help aspiring and existing homeowners who need a job to achieve or maintain homeownership. Many rural job seekers have fewer job opportunities, so they must excel in finding jobs that translate their prior skills into new occupations and positioning themselves to grow within an organization.”

Email Emma Hinchliffe

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