$354 million available to Georgia homeowners for mortgages and utilities | How to apply

“This, what we’re doing, says help is on the way,” Democratic Rep. David Scott said in a news conference Wednesday. Georgia officials announced the launching Wednesday of a website where homeowners can apply for help with mortgages and utilities as part of a $354 million fund.

The Georgia Mortgage Assistance program is designed to help people who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, with the money coming from federal funds that were approved with the American Rescue Plan. The money in Georgia is being administered through the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA). 

DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn said during the news conference that in preparation for the launch of the full program, a smaller pilot program launched last year had already helped 147 homeowners successfully receive about $2.3 million – roughly $15,800 for each household.

Nancy Flake Johnson, the CEO of Greater Urban League Atlanta, noted that when the pandemic began “resources for renters came quickly… but support for homeowners is critically important as well.” She hailed the launch of this program, noting that “losing a place to live 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 money?

First, you have to meet the income and hardship requirements.

The income requirements generally depend on where you live, and incorporate the total household income – “all income from the homeowners, borrowers, and spouse residing in the home.”

The requirements include:

  • You have to be at or below (technically speaking, making 100% or less of) the Area Median Income for your county. In Fulton County, it is $85,700.

Use this tool to find your Area Median Income

  • You can, however, make more than that and still qualify – 150% of your Area Median Income, which would be $131,250 in Fulton County – if you qualify as a Socially Disadvantaged Individual.

What are the Socially Disadvantaged Individual qualifications?

From the Georgia Mortgage Assistance website:

  • “Those whose ability to purchase or own a home has been impaired due to diminished access to credit on reasonable terms as compared to others in comparable economic circumstances, based on disparities in homeownership rates in the state as documented by the US Census. Indicators of impairment may include being a (1) member of a group that has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society; (2) resident of a majority-minority Census tract; (3) individual with limited English proficiency; (4) resident of a US territory, Indian reservation, or Hawaiian Home Land; or (5) individual who lives in a persistent-poverty county (any county that has had 20% or more of its population living in poverty over the past 30 years as measured by the three most recent decennial censuses.)”

What are the other requirements?

Other eligibility requirements include stuff like Georgia residency, that the home for which you are requesting assistance is in Georgia and is your primary residence, that your mortgage lender or servicer participates in the program and that, “The homeowner, borrower, or the spouse living in the home must have suffered a financial hardship related to the pandemic, that caused a need for assistance.”

The hardship must have occurred after Jan. 21, 2020 and “was due to a significant loss of income OR due to 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 a onetime payment to help catch you up on forbearance or delinquency.
  • Up to three months of mortgage payments, paid in a onetime payment to account for a permanent loss in income, “to allow recast, modification or other loss mitigation options” with your loan.
  • Housing related expenses to catch up on payments such as property taxes, homeowner 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 servicer. 

The DCA website notes that most homeowners will receive less than this.

How do I apply?

You can begin a pre-screening questionnaire at the DCA website here.

You will also need documents including:

  • Identification: A Georgia driver’s license or other ID showing your Georgia address
  • Tax returns: Your federal tax returns to prove your income for 2020 or, if you are not required to file tax returns, documentation for your income for the last 30 days as well as a statement about why you don’t have tax returns filed.
  • Socially Disadvantaged Individual Affidavit: Document available on the DCA site, necessary only if you qualify.
  • Copy of your mortgage
  • Hardship statement: The DCA site says this only “may be required” and that “if needed, you will be told what to upload.”
  • Third party authorization: This will allow the state to communicate with your lender or loan servicer. This form is available for download on the DCA site.
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