Long-awaited pandemic mortgage relief program launched in Pennsylvania

Nelly Jimenez, executive director of ACLAMO, a nonprofit organization that primarily serves Montgomery County’s Latino community, supports families displaced by Hurricane Ida and those in need of rental assistance. the state.

She worries about the program’s accessibility, particularly about the “technology gap” she sees among her clients, those who don’t own computers, phones, or don’t have access to Wi-Fi.

“That’s where it raises red flags for me,” Jimenez said. “Is this really going to reach the people who need it most?”

ACLAMO is already inundated with people in need of rental assistance. According to Jimenez, they don’t have the support needed to help those who have the owner request.

“We just don’t have the capacity,” Jimenez said.

She suggested that the state provide financial assistance and training to grassroots organizations to help those in need of funds obtain funds.

“We know now that it only works if you engage people in grassroots organizations, right?” said Jimenez. “Because again, who is going to benefit? The people who can.

William Kampf, 88, of Croydon in Bucks County, will receive assistance through the Credit Counseling Center to apply for the help. Kampf has a $6,000 lien on his home.

His residential mortgage was forborne, but he was eventually able to get a modified mortgage payment.

When he first heard about the Pennsylvania Homeowners Assistance Fund, or PAHAF, application, he feared he would be able to access assistance.

“How can I do such a thing? I do not have a computer. I can’t afford it. I can’t get a phone,” Kampf said.

A retired factory manager at Tri-State Container, now living on a fixed income, Kampf has been back and forth in hospital over the past year, suffering from a hernia and heart failure. congestive. He struggles to pay his medical bills.

” I do not have it. You can’t get blood out of a rock,” Kampf said.

To top it off, his house was flooded “Centennial Flood” last Julyand trees fell on his property after the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit the area in September.

“I’m out of money,” Kampf said. “I ran out of credit cards because I had to live. I had to pay. I had to do what I could. And my fixed income was going down with the bills and everything. So what did I am I going to do? What can I do?”

Powers-Watts worries about Pennsylvanians who have debts over $30,000, those whose balances exceed the program’s criteria.

“There will be people who just can’t get help because of the default,” she said. “If the default is $56,000 and $30,000 is paid, what will happen with the remaining default balance? The house could therefore still be subject to seizure.

In response to the concern, the state Housing Finance Agency said it will cover $30,000 and that landlords will be required to contribute “sufficient funds or document an approved loss mitigation plan to cover needs.” additional beyond the PAHAF ceiling”.

Powers-Watts and Neamand always encourage their clients to apply, even if they exceed the $30,000 limit.

“PAHAF needs to see that people have these issues and need more than the ceiling,” Neamand said. “They won’t notice that this problem needs to be fixed unless people show them it’s a problem.”