Columbia, SC (WLTX) - SC Help will be phased out by the end of 2017 South Carolina Housing spokesperson Clayton Ingram said Thursday.

"We don't have a concrete date for when it will end, but the funding will run out probably sometime in 2017," Ingram said.

SC Housing oversees the mortgage assistance program.

"This was put in place to be a bridge program to help you over that time of hardship," he said.

The program started in 2011 as an aid to the effects of the 2008 recession. A homeowner can receive up to 24 months of assistance or a maximum of $36,000.

"It takes the form of an additional mortgage like a second or a third mortgage, but it goes away at 20 percent per year as long as you stay in the home. The only way someone would be asked to pay it back is if they sold the home during that time period for a profit," he said.

According to Ingram the program saw the most need in October of 2011.

"In that month alone we got 2,401 applications," he said.

The amount of applications has generally decreased over the last six years.

"In 2017 we've only been averaging 395, not quite 400 a month," he said.

But last month SC Help saw 407 applicants and about 700 in August.

"We had the layoff with SCE&G, Westinghouse, the VC Summer nuclear plant. Five thousand people out of work overnight," he said.

Ingram said the plan has always been to shutdown the program in 2017 and has nothing to do with the layoffs at VC Summer, but he was unable to answer how much money was left in the bank and when exactly this year the program will stop.

"This has given us a little bit of an increase in volume. The good news is that it's there for the people that need it. It's still there. There is still money, but don't wait. Apply now. Apply as soon as you think that you may be in trouble," he said.