Pennsylvania has launched a new $ 350 million program designed to help homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Tom Wolf on Thursday announced the statewide launch of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund (PAHAF) after approval by the US Department of the Treasury. The fund uses the $ 350 million American Rescue Plan Act distributed to Pennsylvania through the Treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund to help homeowners avoid mortgage defaults, defaults and foreclosures, as well as to help pay for utilities.
“As we continue to advance our COVID-19 recovery efforts, we must deal with the growing number of homeowners facing possible home loss and foreclosure – this program will do just that,” Wolf said. “The Homeowners Assistance Fund will prioritize those people and families who need it most, as well as those who are socially disadvantaged. I’m grateful that the US Treasury approved the Pennsylvania plan, and we can start the new year by distributing this vital funding to homeowners.
The money aims to help homeowners with incomes equal to or less than 150% of the region’s median income and who are facing “unforeseen” financial hardship related to the pandemic.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency will administer the PAHAF program, with applications available online starting February 1. PAHAF website also provides resources for homeowners who may need in-person assistance completing the application, according to a press release from Wolf.
“To qualify for this assistance, eligible Pennsylvania homeowners must have experienced a reduction in income or increased living expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic after January 21, 2020 (including an ordeal that began before January 21, 2020 but continued after that date), ”the press release read. “They are also currently required to own and occupy their home in Pennsylvania for their primary residence. Additionally, the program has specific income requirements to be eligible. “
The relief comes as millions of Americans face foreclosures after a moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages ended last year. The Biden administration extended forbearance options for government guaranteed loans until the end of September, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau urged lenders to postpone foreclosure proceedings until 2022.
Seizures first rose in October when federal foreclosure protections expired, then declined in November, although Pennsylvania was among the top states for seizures that month, according to a U.S. Lockdown Market Report by ATTOM Data Solutions, a company that tracks seizures.
PAHAF assistance programs include assistance with mortgage reinstatement, assistance with term mortgage payments, and assistance with home ownership changes and utility payments to avoid displacement. Funds will be distributed directly to mortgage lenders, utilities, utility providers and other third parties, not to homeowners.
“Our mission is to help Pennsylvanians achieve housing stability despite the many challenges faced in these uncertain times,” said PHFA Executive Director Robin Wiessmann. “The PAHAF will provide essential support to eligible Pennsylvania homeowners, enabling families to recover and helping communities overcome the devastating financial and economic impacts of the pandemic. “