In early 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. This law created a Homeowner Assistance Fund, a federal program, to give around $10 billion to the states to help households that are behind on their mortgages and other housing expenses due to COVID-19.
Eligible homeowners in Minnesota who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a portion of the approximately $128 million allocated to the state—up to $35,000 per household—by applying to the HomeHelpMN program. This program uses federal money to help homeowners pay overdue mortgage payments and other home costs.
What Costs Are Covered By the HomeHelpMN Program?
You can use money from the HomeHelpMN program to pay past-due:
Overdue housing-related expenses, like property taxes, homeowners' insurance, lot rent, and homeowners' association fees, are eligible for financial assistance even if you don't have a mortgage so long as you own the home.
Eligibility Requirements for the HomeHelpMN Program
To qualify for relief from this program, you must have suffered a financial hardship (a material reduction in income or an increase in living expenses) after January 21, 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
You also have to meet these guidelines.
The property must be owner-occupied and located in Minnesota.
The property must be a one- to four-unit dwelling (and you must live in one unit as a primary residence). Eligible property types include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, duplexes, cooperatives, and mobile or manufactured homes.
You must have overdue mortgage payments or other housing-related expenses that became past due on or after January 21, 2020.
The property must belong to the homeowner who occupies the property and is applying for assistance. This means that the home's title must be in the homeowner's name. So, ineligible forms of ownership interest include, but are not limited to, business entities (LLC, LP, LLP, etc.) and rent-to-own relationships.
How the HomeHelpMN Program Works
Assistance is in the form of a grant that you don't have to repay. Payments from the program go directly to the loan servicer or other approved entity, not to homeowners.
How to Apply to the HomeHelpMN Fund Program
The application period for the HomeHelpMN program runs from May 17, 2022 through June 17, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. CST. Apply at HomeHelpMN.org or by contacting the call center at 800-388-3226.
You'll have to provide specific documents with your application, like mortgage statements, proof of homeownership, proof of income (such as pay stubs or tax returns), and a government-issued ID (like a driver's license).
Funds are limited, and demand is expected to be high. So, if you think you might qualify, you should start collecting your documents and apply as soon as possible after the application window opens.
Avoid Homeowner Assistance Fund Scams
Be wary if you get an unsolicited offer by phone, mail, email, or text message offering mortgage relief or foreclosure rescue services. Scammers are increasingly targeting homeowners who've been affected by COVID-19. Homeowner Assistance Fund programs are free. If anyone asks you to pay a fee to get housing counseling or to receive foreclosure prevention services from this program, it's a scam.