$50M in Mortgage Relief Available to District of Columbia Homeowners

Eligible homeowners in Washington, D.C. can get up to $120,000 to make mortgage payments and pay other housing-related expenses.

By , Attorney

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 the District of Columbia who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a portion of the approximately $50 million allocated to the state—up to $120,000 per household—by applying to the DC Homeowner Assistance Fund program. This program uses federal money to help homeowners make mortgage payments and pay other housing costs.

What Kind of Assistance Is Available?

Homeowners can use money from the DC Homeowner Assistance Fund program to pay:

  • mortgage payments, including reinstatement ($100,000 maximum) and up to three months of future payments (maximum assistance of $18,000) (reverse mortgages and home equity lines of credit are eligible)
  • various property charges up to $100,000, including past-due fees and up to three months of future payments ($18,000 maximum) for housing association payments (like homeowners' association, condominium association, and housing cooperative fees), property taxes, and homeowners' insurance, and
  • utilities, like electricity, gas, and water (up to $4,000), and internet and broadband services (up to $1,000).

Facing a Foreclosure in the District of Columbia?

Even if a foreclosure has started, you might still have time to get assistance from the DC Homeowner Assistance Fund program. Homeowners who apply for housing assistance get a foreclosure moratorium until September 30, 2022. In addition, if you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan and notify your loan servicer that you've applied to a Homeowner Assistance Fund program, the servicer must suspend foreclosure activities for up to 60 days. If court foreclosure proceedings are pending, you might be eligible to get help from:

  • Legal Aid Society of DC: 202-628-1161
  • Legal Counsel for the Elderly (Age 60+): 202-434-2120, or
  • DC Foreclosure Prevention Hotline: 202-265-2255.

Also, you might have time to work out an alternative to foreclosure with your loan servicer. For instance, homeowners with a federally backed mortgage loan can get a COVID-19 forbearance while the national emergency declaration is in place. If your loan isn't federally backed, your servicer might offer a forbearance or another form of relief, like a loan modification, if the COVID crisis has financially impacted you.

If you have questions about the foreclosure process in Washington, D.C., or want to learn about potential defenses to a foreclosure, consider talking to a foreclosure lawyer.

Eligibility Requirements for the DC 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 20, 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic. You also have to meet these guidelines:

  • The property must be owner-occupied and located in the District of Columbia.
  • You must be behind on your mortgage, other property charges, utility, or internet payments,
  • The property must be your primary residence and must have been so since June 1, 2021.
  • Your mortgage loan can't have been more than the conforming loan limit at origination.

In addition, your income can't exceed certain limits. Generally, your household income must be at or below 100% of the area median income ($142,300 for a family of four). But households that are socially disadvantaged might be eligible for mortgage reinstatement assistance with annual income up to 150% of the area median income. ("Socially disadvantaged" individuals belong to a group whose ability to buy or own a home is impaired because of diminished access to credit on reasonable terms compared to others in comparable economic circumstances. The impairment must be the result of circumstances beyond your control.) Families with incomes above 100% of the area median income aren't eligible for other types of assistance.

How the DC Homeowner Assistance Fund Program Works

Assistance is structured as 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 DC Homeowner Assistance Fund Program

To apply, go to the official DC Homeowner Assistance Fund website and use the application portal. You'll have to create a profile, answer a prescreening questionnaire, and complete an online application.

Depending on what kind of assistance you apply for, you'll have to provide specific documents as part of your application. For instance, you might need to supply items like your mortgage statement, pay stubs, and tax returns.

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 DC Homeowner Assistance Fund Program

If you have questions about the DC Homeowner Assistance Fund Program, call 202-540-7407 or email haf.dhcd@dc.gov. For more information about housing resources in the D.C. area, go to the Front Door DC website.

To get help with the application process or if you have further questions about the DC Homeowner Assistance Fund program, contact a HUD-approved housing counselor who can assist you (for free). Or you can find a counselor by visiting HUD's website or calling 800-569-4287. Some applicants must meet with a housing counselor before getting financial assistance from the DC Homeowner Assistance Fund program.

Effective date: June 22, 2022