Since the start of the pandemic last year, Congress has approved three rounds of stimulus checks, and several other benefits for those unemployed, renters and more. There is one more benefit that many people may not know about, but it is only for homeowners. However, these coronavirus stimulus checks will not come automatically, rather homeowners need to apply for it.
This benefit for homeowners, called Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF), is part of Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The $1.9 trillion plan, which was signed into law in March, sets aside $10 billion for the Homeowners Assistance Fund.
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The fund ensures at least $50 million to each state, as well as for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Further, it ensures $498 million for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and designated housing entities.
This fund aims to support homeowners hit hard by the pandemic and are unable to make their mortgage payments and are facing delinquencies and foreclosures. Eligible homeowners can use the money to cover mortgage payments, cost of utilities, homeowners insurance and other related essentials.
The Treasury Department is responsible for the distribution of the Homeowners Assistance Fund. It has set up many eligibility requirements to ensure that the money reaches those who need it the most.
This program could provide a much needed benefit to millions of homeowners across the nation. Fox News reports that over 3 million households are behind on their mortgage payments and about 1.7 million will exit their forbearance period in September.
Homeowners Assistance Fund: Who is eligible and how to apply
Only those who have experienced financial hardship since January 21, 2020, will be eligible for this money. Thus, those applying for this benefit need to provide evidence for the same, such as a job loss, drop in income, more spending on healthcare, etc.
Another eligibility criterion is that the household income of the claimant must not be more than 150% of the median income in the area. Also, the mortgage balance of the homeowner must not be more than $548,250 as of 2021.
It is estimated that about 14 million homeowners have mortgages that could qualify for this benefit. However, not all may be able to get support. The HAF makes it clear that priority will be given to homeowners who have "experienced the greatest hardships."
Unlike the stimulus checks that were sent automatically, homeowners who believe that they meet the eligibility requirements will have to apply for it. To apply, the homeowners need to contact their state’s housing agency. They can do this through the National Council of State Housing Agencies’ online help page.
After you contact your state’s housing agency, it will detail the application process, as well as any specific eligibility requirement (in addition to the above ones) it may have.