MaineHousing launches new portal for Homeowner Assistance Fund
A new online portal and expanded benefit amount are key features of a relaunch of the Maine Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) that opens for applications today.
Fueled with $50 million from federal pandemic relief funds, the fund is available to households earning up to 150 percent of local area median income and who have suffered a financial hardship, loss of income, or increased expenses after Jan. 21, 2020 associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among other changes to the program, the maximum benefit per homeowner is increasing up to $50,000.
Homeowners can check eligibility and begin the application process online at: www.MaineHomeownerHelp.org.
“This fund is meant to help low and moderate income homeowners who may have gotten behind on their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic get caught up,” said MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan. “Working with our partners in state government and other housing non-profits, including Avesta Housing, Coastal Enterprises Inc. and several of Maine’s Community Action Agencies, we have been able to not only streamline the application process for this program, but also increase the maximum benefit amount.”
Over the last several months, MaineHousing has worked closely with the staff at the Bureau of Consumer and Credit Protection, within the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, to transition the administration of this important federal aid program from the Bureau to MaineHousing. This change will allow both entities to more effectively serve homeowners and consumers.
Those who have previously applied for the program and were either unable to complete an application or who were denied are also being encouraged to reapply under revised eligibility standards for the program.
“We want anyone who believes they could use some help keeping their mortgage current, paying off an overdue tax or utility bill, or even to cover the increasing cost of heating your home, to apply for this program,” Brennan said.
“If you think you may be eligible for this program, do not wait to apply,” Brennan said. “These funds, like other COVID relief funds, will run out.”
MaineHousing currently has until September of 2025 to commit the federal funds unless funding runs out earlier. If there are any unused funds, under the law they will need to be returned to the U.S. Treasury.
Applications for the program will continue to be processed by a group of local partners, including several community action agencies and housing providers. Proof of homeownership and income eligibility will be required. Access to the program also includes financial counseling with a Housing and Urban Development-certified mortgage counselor. This is at no cost to the applicant.
Expenses covered by the program may include late or past due mortgage or tax payments, overdue utility bills including sewer, water and electricity and/or heating fuels. The program can also pay overdue homeowner association dues and fees or the lot rent for a mobile home that is owned by the occupants.
For some eligible homeowners, the program will also pay up to three months of future mortgage payments to ensure housing stability.
For more information about the Maine Homeowner Assistance Fund and to begin the application process online go to: www.MaineHomeownerHelp.org