State Announces Reopening and Renewed Homeowner Funding Assistance Program
Starting March 8, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will resume accepting new applications for the Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Program. The program offers federal temporary COVID-19 emergency mortgage relief to support homeowners who have experienced severe financial hardships due to the pandemic. Eligible homeowners can receive funding for past-due mortgages and other housing expenses, as well as ongoing payment assistance. The program is designed to assist a limited number of homeowners with low to moderate incomes.
OHCS had paused the program on Nov. 30, 2022, to assess current applications in its queue, complete minor system maintenance and upgrades, and better project the amount of HAF funds remaining for homeowners. During the pause, the program continued serving the most at-risk homeowners. However, the agency estimates there are enough funds to support about 700 additional eligible homeowners.
OHCS is accepting new applications submitted by housing counselors on behalf of homeowners who are in a judicial action or have a verified foreclosure sale date. The program will reopen with a focus on homeowners in active foreclosure and those traditionally underserved by mortgage markets. Homeowners can learn more about eligibility requirements and, if eligible, apply online starting March 8, at oregonhomeownerassistance.org.
However, the HAF funding is limited, and the state is prioritizing Oregon households that are at the highest risk of foreclosure. Once the $72 million of funding available for homeowners is gone, the program will close. Therefore, homeowners should evaluate all their options, and other loss mitigation options depend on a homeowner’s mortgage and their servicer.
To assist homeowners, free help is available from certified housing counselors around the state. Homeowners can learn about budgeting tools and evaluate options to keep their homes, such as modifications, adding deferred payments to the end of a mortgage, or HAF. Housing counselors are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated professionals who can help homeowners communicate with their mortgage servicers.
In addition to connecting with a certified housing counselor, Oregon homeowners should directly contact their mortgage servicers and lenders to see what types of mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention programs are available. Homeowners who communicate with their lenders and servicers have some additional protections and usually have more time to figure out their options.
Homeowners should also be aware of fraud and be extremely cautious with offers to help from unauthorized companies or people. They should not provide financial or personal information unless they verify the company or person’s licensing status. Homeowners should watch out for common warning signs that may indicate a scam. If a homeowner suspects they’re being contacted by a scammer, they can file a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Oregon Department of Justice, or the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General.
To verify a lender’s license, homeowners can visit the Division of Financial Regulation’s license page and compare it with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) license number. This number must be included on all advertising materials and should be easy to find. To verify a housing counseling agency’s status with the state, homeowners should make sure they are listed on the OHCS website. Overall, OHCS recommends that homeowners should not delay and reach out to a state approved homeownership center right away if they are falling behind on their mortgage payments.