An unfortunate side effect of the coronavirus pandemic was an uptick in homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments due to illness, joblessness, or other COVID hardships.
Mortgage delinquencies peaked in May 2020 with more than 4 million homeowners behind on their house payments, representing 7.5% of home mortgages.
To confront this crisis-within-a-crisis, the 2021 American Rescue Plan set aside $10 billion for mortgage assistance, known as the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), for qualified homeowners that experienced a COVID hardship after January 21, 2020.
This fund provides a minimum of $50 million per state (including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico), $30 million per territory (Guam, American Samoa, etc.), and nearly $500 million for Tribal housing entities.
Each state and territory was tasked with creating a Homeowner Assistance Fund program and determining the amount of funds needed based on their unemployment and mortgage delinquency rates. The programs range in size from the $1 billion California Mortgage Relief Program to the $50 million Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program.
The maximum benefit also varies from state to state. For example, HAF recipients in New York can get a maximum of $50,000 in assistance while Wyoming’s plan maxes out at $15,000 per recipient.
States are in various stages of implementing their individual Homeowner Assistance Fund programs. If a state is not available yet, it should be in the coming months.
At least 22 states currently have active HAF programs accepting applicants while the rest are awaiting approval from the Treasury Department.
The map below shows the status of each state and Washington D.C. and includes a link to the program’s website.
HAF Program accepting applicants statewide
HAF Pilot Program accepting certain applicants
Preliminary information available online
Website not yet available
Although there are state and federal rental assistance programs, the Homeowner Assistance Fund is specifically for homeowner households experiencing financial hardship associated with the coronavirus pandemic after January 21, 2020.
The funds are available to homeowners with a loan principal balance at or below the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) conforming loan limits, which vary by location. For most of the US, the baseline conforming loan limit for single-family homes is $647,200 in 2022. In high-cost areas like Hawaii and Alaska, loan limits are as high as $970,800.
The HAF program guidelines also specify that 60 percent of each state’s funds must go to homeowners with incomes at or less than the area median income (AMI) or the median income for the US – whichever is greater. The HAF also requires state programs to prioritize “socially disadvantaged individuals.”
Many state HAF programs are expected to open in early-mid 2022 and funds will be available until they run dry.
The goal of the Homeowner Assistance Fund is to keep homeowners in their homes and the funds can be used in a variety of ways to serve this purpose, including:
- Mortgage payment assistance
- Other housing costs related to forbearance, delinquency, or default
- Interest rate reductions
- Utilities including electric, gas and water
- Internet service (including broadband)
- Homeowner’s, flood, and mortgage insurance
- HOA and condo association fees
And finally, a catch-all statement in the HAF summary says funds can be used for “any other assistance to promote housing stability for homeowners, including preventing eviction, mortgage delinquency or default, foreclosure, or loss of utility or home energy service, as determined by the Secretary.”
Homeowner assistance fund FAQs
The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) is $9.961 billion fund created by the American Rescue Plan to help homeowners overcome financing hardships caused by COVID-19. Each state is tasked with creating their own assistance program and requesting a minimum of $50 million from the Treasury. Use the map above to find your state’s program.
HAF assistance is for homeowners that have experienced financial hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic after January 21, 2020. Homeowners must have a principal balance at or below the FHFA conforming loan limits, which range from $647,200 in 2022 for most of the US to $970,800 in high-cost areas like Alaska and Hawaii.
Specific HAF qualifications may vary from state to state.
As of January 2022, about half of US states had active HAF programs in place with the other half waiting approval from the US Treasury. Many more programs are expected to come online in 2022 and will distribute funds until they are exhausted. Use the map above to check the status of your state’s HAF program.
Fairway is not affiliated with any government agencies. These materials are not from VA, HUD or FHA, and were not approved by VA, HUD or FHA, or any other government agency.