Homeowner Assistance Program Witnesses Noteworthy Participation in Puerto Rico
Over a year since the U.S. Department of the Treasury granted approval for the Puerto Rico Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), a whopping total of over 8,000 homeowners on the island have benefitted from the program. Backed by $75.6 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), the assistance initiative has significantly contributed to preventing home losses due to economic difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HAF funds, expertly administered by Innovative Emergency Management Inc. (IEM), were awarded under a contract to the Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority (PRHFA). The fund’s mission has been to prevent mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and homeowner displacements. It specifically targets those who have been dealing with financial hardships before and since January 21, 2020.
Ricardo Álvarez, PRHFA Auxiliary Executive Director for Single Family Projects, shed light on the impact of the Puerto Rico Homeowner Assistance Program (PRHAP), stating that the program has supported over 8,000 homeowners who were grappling with financial troubles.
PRHAP offers a suite of aid options to eligible homeowners, with the maximum cap for the program set at $21,000. As Álvarez revealed, PRHFA and project manager IEM have been successful in disbursing over 86% of the funds and awarding more than 90% of the total allocated money. The acceptance of applications began in December 2021.
“Initially, the PRHAP intended to assist at least 5,000 homeowners across all 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico. However, we’re proud to have surpassed this target, with IEM’s support, by helping more than 8,000 homeowners,” said Álvarez. He also emphasized the continuous efforts of the agency to secure new funds to aid more Puerto Rican homeowners and their discussions with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and other key agencies to identify potential additional resources.
Pamela Patenaude, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary and Senior Executive Advisor for IEM attributed the program’s success in Puerto Rico to the development of program policies that align with Treasury guidelines and the involvement of experienced professionals. She remarked on how these aspects enabled the PRHAP team to form vital partnerships with servicers and lenders for swift and efficient processing of payments to ensure homeowners can stay in their homes.
Patenaude shared that “Puerto Rico was acknowledged by the National Council of State Housing Agencies as the first HAF program to fully launch. IEM is proud of its partnership with PRHFA in ensuring the maximum number of homeowners benefit from PRHAP funds.”
To maintain transparency and provide regular updates, PRHAP hosts a public dashboard on its website, allowing users to interact and view the most recent statistics and program results.