The Homeowner Assistance Fund: What You Need to Know

Inflation continues to rise: everything from the cost of eggs to the lack of availability of new cars really drives home the daily feeling that more things are just becoming unaffordable and inaccessible by the day. Even as some households continue to feel the negative financial impacts of the early pandemic. Low-income families in particular are hit hard, some facing defaults on home mortgages, foreclosures, and delinquencies. They risk having utilities shut off, which is devastating when combined with the increasing extreme temperatures as the climate continues to change.

However, families who lost their homes or experienced major hardship after January 21, 2020 may find relief in the Homeowner Assistance Fund.

What Is the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF)?

The Homeowner Assistance Fund is designated to help families in need stay in their homes. Relief from HAF can go towards utilities, insurance payments, mortgage payments, and other home-related expenses. Those with the greatest hardship are prioritized, and both federal and regional factors are considered when determining who gets HAF.

HAF gets distributed in the amount $50 million or more per state (plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia). $500 million of HAF money is set aside for tribal lands, which includes the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. $30 million goes to help families in Guam, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Updates to HAF

HAF qualifications have recently been updated. These were rolled out in a series of updates in 2022. If you didn’t qualify prior to 2022, it might be worth revisiting to see if your home-related expense is covered. Start by reaching out to your case worker as you may now be qualified. In some cases, you may not qualify for a direct expense coverage, but you may be able to get reimbursed for certain expenses.

While states distribute the funding, HAF consists of over 10 billion dollars for distribution federally.

How to Qualify for the Homeowner Assistance Fund

Those who qualify for HAF have to demonstrate measurable financial hardships that occurred due to the pandemic, and the money from HAF can only go towards your main residence. You’ll also need to meet state-specific program requirements, which is typically based upon the median income in your state.

You can put HAF funds towards homeowners insurance, internet service, property taxes, homeowners association fees, mortgage payments, and more. This also includes past due mortgage payments. Additionally, specific home repairs may be eligible. These are just examples and everything with HAF varies state by state.

To see if you qualify, you’ll have to apply through your state.

Details About HAF

Do you have to pay HAF funds back? Not usually, but if you sell your home shortly after using HAF funds towards it, it is possible. This is all based upon the local requirements of your program. Housing counseling agencies can help you understand the obligations of taking on HAF money. And even if you’re already in the process of foreclosure, you can and should still apply for HAF.

If you qualify, the funds go directly to the contractor you’ve hired to repair your home or to your mortgage lender, utility company, etc. The company must accept HAF payments for this to work. HAF funds can apply towards a primary residence such as a single-family home, duplex, condo, or manufactured home.

To begin, make sure you reach out to the Housing of Urban Development (HUD) office in your state to get started. Don’t struggle when help is readily available for homeowners just like you.