State housing officials were preparing to work late into the night Friday as the deadline loomed to get federal mortgage help to struggling Maryland homeowners.

Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development has nearly $57 million in federal money to make forgivable loans to borrowers facing foreclosure. But the agency is required to return any funds it wasn't able to commit by the end of the night Friday to the U.S. Treasury.

Maryland was one of the few states to use up its original allotment. The state was given about $20 million more to keep on going.

Rosa Cruz, a spokeswoman for the state housing department, said the agency's mail room would stay open until midnight to postmark newly processed Emergency Mortgage Assistance commitments.

Staffers were eating dinner at their desks, she said, and remained optimistic that they could beat the clock.

"It's like watching the baseball team in the extra innings," she said. "The goal here is to not leave any money on the table."

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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