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Federal Mortgage Relief Program For Seniors

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

The pandemic has caused financial hardships for many homeowners. By getting early help, borrowers can save their homes from foreclosure if they struggle with mortgage payments. The CARES Act and American Rescue Plan enacted by Congress established mortgage stimulus programs for borrowers struggling to make mortgage payments due to unemployment or loss of business.

The negative financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have now begun to subside, but many mortgage relief programs have been extended into 2022 to help those still facing financial difficulties. The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) is available for homeowners who need financial assistance. COVID-19 has affected the financial well-being of homeowners. 

The Housing Assistance Fund helps them pay their mortgages or other home expenses. With nearly $10 billion in funding, the HAF is intended to ensure that families can navigate financial challenges in the face of housing instability and stay in their homes.

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The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF)

Federal Mortgage Relief Program For Senior Citizens

The Homeowner Assistance Fund is the leading federal mortgage relief program for seniors that derives its funding from the American Rescue Plan of 2021. A financial and economic downturn caused by the pandemic resulted in the creation of this program to assist financially struggling families. 

Low-income families can utilize the grants provided by the HAF to pay for home-related expenses such as repairs, utilities, and other domestic expenses. The HAF program assists low-income families in all 50 states of the United States. 

Homeowners who face mortgage delinquency, default on their mortgage payments, or foreclosures, and are at risk of being displaced from their homes, as a result, are eligible for financial assistance from the Housing Assistance Fund. The US Treasury Department provides comprehensive program guidance and information about the HAF program. 

These guidelines were updated on August 8, 2022.

In response to the negative impact of COVID-19, the government established the $9.961 billion Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program. The HAF provides financial assistance to low-income households struggling to keep up with mortgage payments and other housing expenses in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

The US Treasury Department oversees the Homeowner Assistance Fund, which is administered independently by the states, territories, and tribal authorities throughout the United States. The funding through the HAF program is allocated to the states, and state administrators then provide these funds at their discretion to the qualifying households. 

If you seek benefits from the HAF program, you should contact your loan service provider to determine your eligibility. Alternatively, if you are not eligible for the HAF program, you can search for local mortgage relief programs using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's lookup tool.

Purpose of the Homeowner Assistance Fund

A $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill enacted by the US Congress and signed into law by President Trump on 27 March 2020, the CARES Act was designed to help workers, industries, families, and small businesses struggling due to the pandemic. 

This law mandated the suspension of mortgage payments for up to one year for all single-family mortgages that were federally backed. Another 90-day forbearance was introduced for multifamily units subject to federally-backed mortgage payments. In conjunction with multiple presidential executive actions, Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act provided additional mortgage relief to struggling families that took the biggest financial hit.

The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) was intended to avoid mortgage-related defaults, foreclosure of houses, loss of utilities (electricity or gas), and the eviction of financially struggling families after January 21, 2020. The HAF assistance might be used to make mortgage payments, pay for insurance, pay utility bills, and pay home repairs. 

The top priority for the distribution of Homeowner Assistance Funds to homeowners depends on the level of financial hardship experienced by the applicants and the average local and national income levels.

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HAF Eligibility Requirements

As with other government assistance programs, the Homeowner Assistance Fund also has certain eligibility requirements that participating households and individuals must adhere to. To be considered for HAF assistance, you or your family must meet the following requirements.

  • You have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic financially.
  • Only your primary residence is qualified for HAF assistance.
  • The household income must be low enough to qualify for the program in your state. The income level of households eligible for HAF assistance is under 150% of the area median income or $79,900 (whichever is higher) for most states.

Some states/areas have established limits that are even lower than the ones mentioned above, so it is advised to confirm the income limits under the HAF with your service provider when you apply for assistance. Different areas might have program-specific additional requirements as well.

Allocation of Funds Under the HAF Program

The allocation of funds under the Homeowner Assistance Fund is as follows:

  • The various states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico will receive funding of $50 million each through the HAF program.
  • For qualified tribal lands or housing entities and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the HAF program has set aside $498 million. 
  • The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands will receive $30 million through the HAF program.

The availability of the HAF program depends on your area of residence. Using the funding from the HAF, every state or territory is free to develop its program and set its criteria. Early 2022 marked the start of application acceptance for many programs. 

Eligible Expenses

Assistance from the HAF program can only be used for specific expenses. Homeowners can use HAF funds from the program for the following purposes. 

  • The payment of past due mortgages, land installment contracts, and past due deed payments.
  • Assisting homeowners who have incurred forbearance, delinquency, or default in paying their mortgages or other housing-related costs.
  • Making payments on overdue homeowner's, flood, and mortgage insurance.
  • Avoiding tax foreclosure by paying off your property taxes.
  • Paying past due bills for utilities like electricity, gas, heating oil, and sewage.
  • Repaying internet service bills that are past due, including broadband internet service bills.
  • Association dues for homeowners or condominiums that are past due.
  • Debt repayment on manufactured homes.

There is no guarantee that all of these expenses will be covered by all programs. Detailed information is available through your local program.

HAF Application Process

Application processes may vary by location. You will need to verify that you meet income requirements and may need to provide the additional necessary documentation. You must confirm that you have experienced financial hardship after January 21, 2020, and describe the nature of that hardship, such as a job loss, reduction in income, or increased costs due to healthcare or the need to care for a family member.

To learn about your program, visit this site and select the appropriate state, district, or territory on the map. You will be able to navigate to a page for your area's specific program, where you may be able to apply immediately or sign up to receive alerts about when your program will be available.

Visit Gov-Relations for government and private assistance programs that can provide you with financial support. Check out our article on first-time home buyer grants in Texas.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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