A state website went live Wednesday to help homeowners apply for money from the Georgia Mortgage Assistance Fund.
ATLANTA – Georgian officials announced the launch on Wednesday of a website where homeowners can apply for help with mortgages and utilities under a $354 million fund.
the Mortgage assistance in Georgia is designed to help people who have been affected by COVID-19, with money coming from federal funds that were approved with the US bailout.
Money in Georgia is administered by the state Community Affairs Department (DAC).
“This, what we are doing, indicates that help is on the way,” Democratic Representative David Scott said at a press conference on Wednesday.
DAC Commissioner Christopher Nunn said at the press conference that in preparation for the launch of the full program, a smaller pilot program launched last year has already helped 147 owners successfully receive approximately $2.3 million, or about $15,800 per household.
Nancy Flake Johnson, the CEO of Greater Urban League Atlanta, noted that when the pandemic began “resources for tenants came quickly…but support for landlords is also critically important.” She welcomed the launch of this program, noting that “the loss of a home can set a family back for generations.”
Here’s what you need to know about eligibility and how to apply:
How do I qualify for cash?
First, you must meet the income and hardship requirements.
Income requirements generally depend on where you live and incorporate total household income – “all income of owners, borrowers and spouse residing in the home”.
- You must be at or below (technically speaking, make 100% or less) the area median income for your county. In Fulton County, it’s $85,700.
- You can, however, earn more than that and still qualify — 150% of your regional median income, which would be $131,250 in Fulton County — if you qualify as a socially disadvantaged person.
What are the qualifications of socially disadvantaged people?
From the Georgia Mortgage Assistance website:
- “Those whose ability to buy or own a home has been compromised due to reduced access to credit on reasonable terms compared to others in comparable economic circumstances, based on disparities in homeownership rates in the state, as shown by the U.S. Census.Indicators of impairment may include being one (1) member of a group that has been subjected to racial or ethnic bias or cultural bias within U.S. society;( 2) resident of a majority-minority census tract; (3) individual with limited English proficiency; (4) resident of a U.S. Territory, Indian Reservation, or Hawaiian Territory; or ( 5) person living in a county with persistent poverty (any county with 20% or more of the population living in poverty for the past 30 years as measured by the last three decennial censuses.)”
What are the other requirements?
Other eligibility criteria include such things as residency in Georgia, that the home for which you are requesting assistance is in Georgia and is your primary residence, that your mortgage lender or manager participates in the program, and that “the owner, borrower or spouse living at home must have experienced pandemic-related financial hardship resulting in a need for assistance.”
The hardship must have occurred after January 21, 2020 and “was due to a significant loss of income OR a significant increase in expenses”.
What kind of help can I get?
The Georgia DCA site lists three types of help you can get:
- Up to three months of mortgage payments, paid in one installment to help you catch up on your backlog or delinquency.
- Up to three months of mortgage payments, paid in one installment to account for permanent loss of income, “to allow for overhaul, modification or other loss mitigation options” with your loan.
- Housing-related expenses to catch up on payments such as property taxes, home insurance, condo or HOA fees, and utility payments.
How much money can I get?
Assistance is capped at $50,000, payable to your lender or loan officer.
The DCA website notes that most owners will receive less than that.
How to apply?
You can start a pre-screening questionnaire on the DCA website here.
You will also have need for documents, including:
- Identification: A Georgian driver’s license or other ID showing your Georgian address
- tax returns: Your federal income tax returns to prove your income for 2020 or, if you are not required to file income tax returns, documentation of your income for the last 30 days along with a statement explaining why you did not produce income tax returns.
- Affidavit of a socially disadvantaged person: Document available on the DCA website, only necessary if you are eligible.
- Copy of your mortgage
- Declaration of hardship: The DCA site states that this “may be necessary” and that “if necessary, you will be told what to download”.
- Third Party Authorization: This will allow the state to communicate with your lender or loan officer. This form is available for download on the DCA website.