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 Washington who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a portion of the approximately $173 million allocated to the state—up to $60,000 per household—by applying to the state's Homeowner Assistance Fund program. This program uses federal money to help homeowners pay mortgage payments and other housing costs.
What Costs Are Covered By the Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund Program?
You can use money from the Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund program to:
homeowners' association fees or liens, condominium association fees, or common charges, and similar costs payable under a unit occupancy agreement by a resident member/shareholder in a cooperative housing development, and
down payment assistance loans that a nonprofit or government entity provided.
Also, some of Washington's Homeowner Assistance funds will pay for default housing counseling services and related services. So, regardless of income level, all homeowners in Washington can get free assistance working with their loan servicers. In addition, some funds will go to Civil Legal Aid to provide no-cost legal assistance to income-qualified homeowners.
Eligibility Requirements for the Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund 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 Washington.
One- to four-unit dwellings (if you live in one unit as a primary residence), including manufactured or mobile homes on rented spaces, are eligible.
How the Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund 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.
This program will be available until funds run out or through June 30, 2024.
How to Apply to Washington's Homeowner Assistance Fund Program
Washington's Homeowner Assistance Fund program is expected to open in May 2022.
You'll most likely have to provide certain documents with your application, like mortgage statements, proof of income (such as pay stubs or tax returns), and a government-issued ID (like a driver's license). So, in the meantime, you can start gathering these items and putting them in an electronic format, such as a pdf.
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.
Learn More About the Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund Program
Call Washington's homeownership hotline at 877‐894‐4663 to learn more about the program and start working with a housing counselor on your specific situation.