Arizona mortgage aid delayed, state blames banks

The Arizona Department of Housing says paperwork problems at many banks are causing delays in mortgage relief payments.

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Housing said Friday that paperwork issues with many banks are causing delays in the disbursement of mortgage relief funding.

The Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF) received $197 million in federal funding in November 2021. But the department’s dashboard shows only $2 million has been disbursed.

The fund is supposed to help homeowners with pandemic-related housing debts, such as utility bills, property taxes and mortgage payments.

Manager Tom Simplot said so far utility payments were going smoothly, but mortgage help was running into snags.

“We’re waiting for the banks and the mortgage companies to come together and sort this out,” Simplot said.

Homeowners enroll in the program and are either approved or rejected by the state, Simplot said. If they are approved for mortgage assistance, the application is then forwarded to the bank for completion.

However, each bank must sign an agreement to participate in the program. And Simplot said many banks have yet to do so.

“We have hundreds of forms lying around the bank that haven’t been returned,” Simplot said. “And until they return those forms, they can’t release any money.”

The HAF has only been around since January, but Simplot said most utilities have had success signing and returning those forms.

Until the banks follow suit, Simplot said the ministry’s hands were tied and the money would sit there, waiting.

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