The best way to do this is: don’t lose your job.
That’s a bit of a smart-aleck answer, but there is reality to back this up. In the United States currently (2011) there are programs to help homeowners in trouble, but relatively few are designed to extend help to homeowners with extended bouts of unemployment. From the linked article, here are where the shortfalls are:
- A Treasury Department program begun in 2010 allows qualifying homeowners to put off mortgage payments for three months, but the typical length of unemployment is three times that. In addition, only slightly about 7,000 homeowners have participated.
- Loan modification incentives usually require some payments to be made. This is a problem without income, so unemployed people don’t qualify for these programs.
- Some programs are targeted for subprime mortgages only. Unemployment affects people holding all kinds of mortgages.
- The government can offer, but lenders aren’t compelled to take. Whether aid is extended to borrowers or not is largely up to the lenders, and they have other considerations.
There is some aid available for homeowners battling unemployment, but it’s not enough. It’s impractical for all concerned for it to be enough.
That’s why it’s so important to protect income streams. Make yourself more valuable at your place of work. Use “free” time to start a side business. Build up an emergency fund to add a cushion so that the mortgage payments can be made for a while despite job loss.
Because when you’re looking for a bail-out, the best you get might be a thimble.