Homeowner Assistance Fund Applications Are Now Being Accepted in Many States — Here’s How To Apply

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Homeowners who need financial assistance with their mortgages and other housing-related expenses can apply for help via the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), a federal program designed to help households who have fallen behind due to COVID-19.

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Although the HAF is a federal program, it will be run at the state level. Seven states, along with Puerto Rico, already have the program up and running and are accepting applications, according to the National Council of State Housing Agencies. Those states are California, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

If you live in one of those states — or Puerto Rico — and are interested in applying for assistance, here’s a look at the relevant agencies in each state, websites to visit to begin the application process, and what you need to know in terms of eligibility:

California

Agency: California Housing Finance Agency

California Program Website

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The California Mortgage Relief Program uses federal HAF funds to help homeowners get caught up on their housing payments. The program is free and the funds do not need to be repaid. It is open to all eligible Californians who are currently experiencing pandemic-related hardships and have fallen behind on their housing payments.

Eligible applicants must: be at or below 100% of their county’s Area Median Income; own a single-family home, condo or permanently affixed manufactured home; and have faced a pandemic-related financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020.

Eligible homeowners must also meet the following criteria:

  • At least two mortgage payments past due by Dec. 27, 2021.
  • Currently own and occupy the property in California as their primary residence.
  • Only own and occupy one property.
  • Attest that they experienced a Qualified Financial Hardship after Jan. 21, 2020.
  • The original, unpaid principal balance of the homeowner’s primary mortgage loan, at the time of origination, cannot be greater than the “conforming loan limit” (as determined under the provisions of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008) in effect at time of origination.
  • Homeowners cannot have cash or assets on hand (excluding savings in a retirement account) that is equal to or greater than the relief funds needed plus $20,000. (For example, homeowners needing $30,000 to get caught up on their mortgage will be ineligible if they have $50,000 or more in assets).
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Louisiana

Agency: Louisiana Office of Community Development

Louisiana Program Website

The Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Fund is available to homeowners who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and are behind on their mortgages — and at risk of foreclosure.

Homeowners are eligible if they meet the following requirements:

  • Must own and occupy a home in Louisiana as their primary residence.
  • Total household income must be equal to or less than 150% area median income (AMI) or 100% of the median income for the United States, whichever is greater, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development income data.
  • Homeowners must have experienced financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020, such as job loss, a reduction in household income, or significant costs for health care.

To be eligible for program assistance, properties must be one of the following: single-family home; condominium unit; one- to four-unit property where the owner lives in one of the units as their primary residence; manufactured home permanently affixed to real property and taxed as real estate, mobile homes not permanently affixed to real property.

To apply, visit the Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Fund website.

Maryland

Agency: Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development

Maryland Program Website

The Maryland Homeowner Assistance Fund is available to state residents who are currently experiencing issues paying their mortgages. To be connected to housing counseling and legal services, call 1-877-462-7555 or see Participating Housing Counseling and Legal Services Agencies​​ to find an agency that can work with you to access relief.​​

To check your eligibility you will have to visit the Homeowner Assistance Fund portal and answer a series of questions regarding your residency status; county of residence; impact of COVID-19 on your ability to pay your mortgage, taxes, insurance and other household expenses; number of people in your household; and income.

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New York

Agency: New York State Homes and Community Renewal

New York Program Website

The New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund program is being administered by the NY State affordable housing agency, NYS Homes & Community Renewal (HCR), in partnership with Sustainable Neighborhoods LLC. To apply visit the NYS HAF website.

The NYS HAF will provide homeowners who were affected by COVID-19 with several types of support. These include financial support to address delinquent housing payments — including mortgage payments, property taxes, condo and co-op fees, and manufactured home loans or monthly lot rents — that result in an affordable outcome.

Other types of support include access to a call center and case managers who can help you find out about any mortgage relief you may be entitled to — and how it will affect your future housing payments — as well as referrals to professional housing counselors or legal service providers.

Under NYS HAF, homeowners are defined as New York State residents who own a home and occupy that home as their primary residence (meaning it is where you live for the majority of every calendar year).

Homeowners are eligible to apply if their household income is equal to, or less than, 100% of the Area Median Income (AMI) — and who are at risk of foreclosure and/or displacement due to financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Types of eligible homeowners include:

  • Mortgaged homeowners who are in a forbearance plan or were offered a forbearance plan that has expired; this may be a first and/or a second mortgage.
  • Mortgaged homeowners who were not offered a forbearance plan, or missed the option to apply for one, and are considered delinquent on their first or second mortgage.
  • Homeowners who are behind on payments for property taxes, water bills, or sewage bills.
  • Co-op or condo homeowners who are behind on monthly carrying charges such as maintenance fees or homeowner association payments.
  • Homeowners who live in manufactured homes and who are behind on home loans or retail installment contracts used to purchase their homes.

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Oklahoma

Agency: Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency

Oklahoma Program Website

Oklahoma’s Homeowner Assistance Fund provides financial assistance for homeowners who have experienced a significant reduction or loss of income due to COVID-19 and whose mortgage payments have become delinquent.

You will need to have these documents ready to begin the application process, and be prepared to scan and upload them:

  • Photo identification of homeowner(s).
  • Social Security cards for all household members over the age of 18.
  • First two pages of the most recent federal tax return.
  • 60 days of pay stubs.
  • Most recent W-2s.
  • Most recent mortgage statement.
  • Most recent county assessor property tax statement (if requesting assistance to pay non-escrowed tax delinquency).
  • Most recent insurance statement (if requesting assistance to pay non-escrowed delinquency).
  • Most recent homeowner’s association statement (if requesting assistance to pay HOA or condominium dues).

Puerto Rico

Agency: Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority

Puerto Rico Program Website

The Puerto Rico Homeowner Assistance Program is now accepting applications. First-time users to the site must register via the application system. If you are unable to register online or need assistance, contact the program call center at 1-888-887-7234 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or make an appointment to visit a center in Aguadilla, Arecibo, San Juan and soon in Mayagüez.

This program is available to homeowners in Puerto Rico who have faced difficulties paying mortgages — and meeting other housing-related expenses on their main homes — due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will be administered by the Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority.

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Rhode Island

Agency: Rhode Island Housing

Rhode Island Program Website

RIHousing’s Homeowner Assistance Fund Rhode Island (HAF-RI) can be used to assist with a range of housing-related expenses including: mortgage arrearages; monthly mortgage payments; principal reduction; property taxes; homeowner and condo association fees; utilities; and flood or mortgage insurance.

Homeowners might be eligible to receive up to 24 months of assistance, not to exceed $50,000, across all HAF-RI programs. The program will continue until the earlier of Sept. 30, 2026, or when all funds allotted to the program have been exhausted.

Applicants must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for assistance:

  • Your household must be below certain income limits which varies by household size. Click here to view income limits.
  • You must own and occupy a 1- to 4-unit dwelling in Rhode Island.
  • You must have experienced a COVID-19 related financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020.
  • Your original mortgage balance must have been less than $548,250.

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Tennessee

Agency: Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Tennessee Program Website

You can apply for assistance through the Tennessee Homeowner Assistance Fund (TNHAF) by visiting the application portal on the Tennessee Housing Development Agency website. Once you click the button, a new window will open with instructions on creating an account to begin the application process.

The TNHAF program will assist with eligible housing related expenses that meet program guidelines up to the maximum assistance per household of $40,000.

Following are some of the main requirements to apply. The list is not all-inclusive, and a TNHAF underwriter will review your information and determine eligibility according to TNHAF guidelines:

  • You must have experienced a qualified financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020.
  • You must currently own and occupy the property as your primary residence.
  • Your annual household income must be less than $119,850.00.

The following items will be needed for all borrowers on the mortgage — and their spouses — in order to submit the application for review: driver’s license or state ID; current and previous year’s tax returns with W-2s; copies of your most recent paystubs covering 30 days and/or other forms of current income such as SSI, retirement, etc.; most recent mortgage statement.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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