Homeowner Funding Assistance to be Reinstated as Part of the State’s Reopening Initiatives
The agency anticipates the current funds to be sufficient in providing support for approximately 700 additional homeowners who meet the eligibility criteria. The program in question offers emergency mortgage relief, a federal aid package designed to assist homeowners who have found themselves in serious financial distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its aim is to help those with past-due mortgages and other pressing housing expenses. Besides dealing with accumulated arrears, the program extends continuous payment assistance to a select group of homeowners in Oregon with low to moderate incomes.
Following a pause in operations that began on November 30, 2022, the Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) took time to evaluate current applications in its backlog, perform minor system maintenance and upgrades, and accurately determine the remaining Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) meant for aiding homeowners. During this hiatus, the program continued to assist those homeowners who were in the direst financial situations.
In the next phase, OHCS is set to accept fresh applications. These applications are to be filed by housing counselors on behalf of homeowners who are either involved in a judicial action or have a verified impending foreclosure sale date.
Ryan Vanden Brink, the Assistant Director of Homeowner Assistance Programs, stressed the collaborative efforts to keep families in their homes, acknowledging the work of Oregon’s housing counseling agencies. They offer much-needed advice and support for homeowners across the state who are struggling to meet their mortgage payments. He strongly advised homeowners facing difficulties to contact a state-approved homeownership center at the earliest opportunity.
As HAF resumes operations, its primary focus will be homeowners who are actively facing foreclosure, as well as those who have been traditionally underserved by mortgage markets. Homeowners can learn more about their eligibility for the program and apply online, starting from March 8, at the official website.
However, it’s worth noting that the funding available through HAF is finite. The state’s priority is assisting those Oregon households at the highest risk of foreclosure. Once the available $72 million is exhausted, the program will close. Even for those who qualify, there’s no guarantee their application will receive funding. Other loss mitigation options will depend on an individual homeowner’s mortgage details and their servicer. Thus, homeowners are encouraged to explore all potential options.
Homeowners can also access free assistance from certified housing counselors across the state. These professionals can guide homeowners about budgeting tools and evaluating various options to retain their homes, such as modifications, adding deferred payments to the end of a mortgage, or seeking assistance from HAF.
Furthermore, it’s advisable for Oregon homeowners to directly engage with their mortgage servicers and lenders to find out about available mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention programs. Proactive communication with lenders and servicers can lead to additional protections and usually buys more time for homeowners to figure out their options.
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services warns homeowners to exercise caution when dealing with unsolicited offers to help from unauthorized companies or individuals. Homeowners are advised not to share personal or financial information until they have verified the legitimacy of the company or person. Applying for the HAF program or consulting with an Oregon housing counselor is free of cost.
For homeowners, it’s crucial to be aware of potential scams. They can consult the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Oregon Department of Justice, or the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General if they suspect fraudulent contact.
To ensure the authenticity of a lender, homeowners can check the Division of Financial Regulation’s license page and compare it with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) license number. Similarly, they can verify a housing counseling agency’s status with the state by checking their listing on the OHCS website.