$10 Billion Homeowners Assistance Fund

If you or someone you know has been struggling to make ends meet since the pandemic began, there’s something you should know. While the FHFA has been working hard to help homeowners exit forbearance, there’s another program that hasn’t been getting as much attention: the homeowners assistance fund.

In March, Congress set aside $10 billion in funds to help homeowners recover from financial hardship. This was done to prevent homeowners from falling behind on their mortgage, losing utility services, or going into foreclosure.

HAF Fund Eligibility

To be eligible, homeowners need to document and describe their financial hardship. The hardship needs to have happened after January 21, 2020 for homeowners to be eligible. Homeowner income also can’t exceed 150% of either the area median income or 100% of the median income for the United States, whichever is greater. Since 150% of the lowest Very Low Income Limit in Miami-Dade and Broward equal $94,950 and $92,400 respectively, that means that a certain percentage of the HAF can go to homeowners that may be in slightly more stable financial conditions.

At least 60% of the funds must be targeted towards lower-income homeowners, defined as those with incomes that don’t exceed 100% of the area median income or 100% of the median income for the United States, whichever is greater. For Miami-Dade county, the median income is $61,000 per family. For Broward county, the median income is $73,400.

Keep in mind that the median US income is $65,712. So if you live in Miami-Dade, you qualify for the HAF as a lower income household if you make $65,712 or less. If you live in Broward, you qualify for the HAF fund as a lower income householdif you make $73,400 or less.

How Homeowners Can Use HAF Funds

Homeowners can also use the assistance to:

  • repair their home and keep it habitable (this includes creating new space avoid overcrowding)

  • Pay delinquent property taxes

  • Reimburse state and local governments for used funds that were within HAF guidelines

  • Pay for mortgage payment assistance

  • Pay mortgage principal or interest rate reductions

  • Pay utility payments (including electric, gas, home energy (including firewood and home heating oil), water and wastewater)

  • Pay for internet

  • Pay for flood or mortgage insurance

  • Pay for homeowner’s association expenses

  • Pay for condo association fees

  • Pay for coop fees

  • Make a down payment on assistance loans

States Set Extra Limits

Portions of the fund are reserved for certain things. For example, states can use 5% of their funding for foreclosure or displacement-prevention counseling provided by HUD-approved agencies or legal services. States can also use up to 15% of the funds to better engage and educate the community about eligibility requirements and availability of the homeowners assistance fund.

Although states can set extra eligibility criteria, the Treasury has discouraged states from adding extra hurdles to qualify them for the homeowners assistance fund. Ideally, the Treasury would like to help homeowners catch up on their payments—and no, there is no catch!

Mortgages prop up the US economy, and the US has a vested interest in keeping homeowners stable, especially as inflation has started to rise. So even if you have bad credit, a past bankruptcy, lien, foreclosure or cash-out refinance—you might just be eligible for the homeowners assistance fund.

For now, we’ll have to wait in the wings as states submit their individual plans for how they’ll use the homeowners assistance fund. States will receive the first installment of the funds once they agree to the conditions set by the Treasury and only use the funds for qualified expenses.