(The Center Square) — 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) following approval from the US Treasury Department. The fund uses $350 million from the American Rescue Plan Act distributed in Pennsylvania through the Treasury’s Homeowners Assistance Fund to help homeowners avoid mortgage defaults, defaults and foreclosures, as well than to help pay for utilities.
“As we continue to advance our COVID-19 recovery efforts, we must address the growing number of homeowners facing possible home loss and foreclosure – this program will do just that,” Wolf said. “The Homeowners Relief Fund will prioritize those individuals and families most in need, as well as those who are socially disadvantaged. I am grateful that the US Treasury has approved Pennsylvania’s plan, and we can start the new year by distributing this critical funding to homeowners. »
The money is intended to help homeowners with incomes at or below 150% of the region’s median income who face “unforeseen” financial hardship related to the pandemic.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency will administer the PAHAF program, with applications available online beginning February 1. APHAF website also provides resources for homeowners who may need in-person assistance completing the application, according to a Wolf press release.
“To be eligible for this assistance, eligible Pennsylvania homeowners must have experienced a reduction in income or an increase in living expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic after January 21, 2020 (including an ordeal that has commenced before January 21, 2020 but continued after that date),” the statement read. “They must also own and currently occupy their home in Pennsylvania as 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 federally backed mortgage foreclosures ended last year. The Biden administration has extended forbearance options for government-backed loans through the end of September, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has urged lenders to delay foreclosure proceedings until 2022.
Foreclosures initially increased in October when federal foreclosure protections expired and then declined in November, although Pennsylvania was among the top states for completed foreclosures that month, according to a U.S. Foreclosures Market Report by ATTOM Data Solutions, a company that tracks seizures.
PAHAF assistance programs include mortgage reinstatement assistance, term mortgage payment assistance, and assistance with home ownership changes and utility payments to avoid displacement. Funds will be distributed directly to mortgage lenders, services, utility providers and other third parties, not to landlords.
“Our mission is to help Pennsylvanians achieve housing stability despite the many challenges faced during these uncertain times,” said PHFA Executive Director Robin Wiessmann. “PAHAF will provide critical support to eligible Pennsylvania homeowners, enabling families to recover and helping communities weather the devastating financial and economic impacts of the pandemic.”