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Columbia, SC (WLTX)- A federal housing program called SC HELP prevented more than 5,000 South Carolina homeowners from going into foreclosure, 1,500 of those homes are in the Midlands.

The program started in 2011 and although South Carolinas foreclosure rates are improving they are still above the national average. As of July 2013, the Palmetto State's foreclosure rate is 4.36%, according to RealtyTrac.

George Brown a Midlands homeowner said SC HELP changed his life after he lost his full-time job. The program helped pay his mortgage payments.

"Oh indeed, it's worth it," Brown said. "Absolutely, I would encourage everyone who is going through an economic down fall at this time if you need assistance, don't hesitate, don't allow your pride to get in your way."

Brown has two children and three grandkids. Owning a home is important to him, but especially for his family.

Dir. of Marketing Clayton Ingram with SC HELP said he encourages people to take advantage of the program.

"If you've lost a job. If you've lost hours or if you foresee that down the road you may be experiencing some difficulty paying your mortgage," Brown said. "We encourage people to apply as soon as possible."

So where does the millions of dollars come from? Ingram said federal funds from the bank bailout.

"South Carolina was one of the hardest hit states at the time from unemployment," Brown said.

More than ten million dollars has been spent in Richland County to help people with foreclosed homes.

Ingram said the program will run until 2017 or until the money runs out. They have received a total of $295 million.

If you're interested in the program you can go to the SC State Housing website. or call (803) 896-9001.

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