Housing Assistance Now Available for Higher-Earning Property Owners
An increasing number of Wyoming homeowners are now eligible for a federal assistance program aimed at aiding those facing financial hardships related to housing costs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Homeowner Assistance Fund, a program expertly managed by the Wyoming Department of Family Services, offers up to $17,000 in financial relief to eligible homeowners. These funds can be used to cover a wide range of housing costs, including overdue mortgage payments, delayed utilities bills, and property taxes. In a significant development this spring, the program has expanded its coverage to include up to three months of future mortgage payments, providing a cushion for homeowners in uncertain times.
This program is financially backed by the substantial American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. It aims to help individuals making less than 150% of their county’s median income, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This income benchmark is revised every spring.
Following the most recent recalibration, the cut-off for a two-person household is set at $111,000 in most Wyoming counties, an increase from the previous limit of around $105,000. However, this cap is scaled upwards in more affluent areas of the state. For instance, in Teton County, a two-person household earning up to $153,250 could be eligible for the program, provided they fulfill the other necessary prerequisites.
A comprehensive chart detailing the eligibility criteria, segmented by county and household size, is available on the Department of Family Services’ website.
Applicants must satisfy certain conditions to be eligible for this program. They must own and inhabit a home in Wyoming (which includes homes on the Wind River Reservation) as their main residence. In addition, they need to demonstrate a “COVID-related financial hardship,” such as loss of income, unexpected expenses, and other similar circumstances.
Despite disbursing funds to numerous applicants, there remains a substantial amount of assistance available. The Department of Family Services initially received $50 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to inaugurate the Homeowner Assistance Fund. As of the most recent update, approximately $9.2 million has been awarded to around 1,190 applicants, as per the Department of Family Services’ website.
To apply to the Homeowner Assistance Fund or to verify your eligibility, visit wyohaf.org.
The recent revision of area median income numbers has also widened eligibility for several other social programs. For instance, HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program, also known as Section 8, is accessible to individuals earning equal to or less than 50% of the area median income in their respective counties.
Furthermore, Wyoming’s state-level property tax refund program is restricted to individuals earning a maximum of 125% of the statewide area median income or the area median income in their county of residence, depending on which is higher.
Interested homeowners must meet additional criteria to be eligible:
- Residency in Wyoming for at least five years;
- Residency in Wyoming for more than six months of the 2022 tax year;
- Ownership of less than $150,000 in household assets per adult resident in the home.
The deadline to apply to the program is June 5. Notably, under Wyoming state statute, counties can also devise their own property tax relief programs, but currently, only Teton County offers such a program. Details on how to apply to the local version of the program will be posted on the county’s website in July.