Are you a homeowner in Pennsylvania who is struggling to keep up with mortgage payments? Unexpected circumstances, such as an employment change or a medical emergency, can put a strain on finances. Fortunately, there are a number of state and federal programs designed to assist homeowners in keeping their home, even when times are tough.

The PA Housing Finance Agency says the first thing you should do when either behind in payments or you know you cannot pay next month’s mortgage is to contact the agency that is servicing your loan. It will help figure out alternatives or other options. Ignoring notices from the company will only make it worse, so be proactive and talk to an associate. Depending on your situation, your lender may give you an Act 91 notice, which is a loan program that assists in mortgage payments.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development discusses other options that are available through the federal government. A simple answer to your money issues may be to refinance your loan which can lower your monthly payments. This can be done through programs such as HARP, HAMP or PRA. If you are recently unemployed, you may be eligible for mortgage payment suspension or reduction, which is available for up to one year while you look for another job.

If your situation looks like it is going to be long-term and you choose not to keep your home, there are also programs to help you manage this process. This helps you avoid foreclosure and allows you to move on to something more affordable.