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 Hawaii who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a piece of the approximately $50 million allocated to the state. The total amount was split up and given to the counties of Maui, Kauai, Hawaii, and the island of Oahu. The various programs use federal money, up to $30,000 per household, to help homeowners make mortgage payments and pay other housing-related costs.
Because the federal money that Hawaii received went to the different counties and the island of Oahu, the programs vary a bit. But to qualify for relief from any of these programs, 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'll have to provide some supporting documentation with your application, like mortgage statements or statements for your other housing-related costs, proof of income (such as pay stubs and tax returns), and a government-issued ID (like a driver's license). In addition, you have to meet the guidelines described below.
The Oahu Homeowner Assistance Fund program provides money to homeowners in Oahu to pay mortgage payments, utilities (like electric, gas, water/sewer, and trash), homeowners' insurance, homeowners' association fees, and property taxes.
To qualify, you must be an Oahu resident. Also, your household income must be at or below 100% of the area median income, or you must be a socially disadvantaged individual. And you can't have more than five months' worth of housing expenses in liquid assets.
This program is temporarily closed while the first 1,000 applications are processed. Once those applications go through, the program will reopen to handle another batch of applicants. Keep an eye on the program's website to watch for the reopening. If you have questions about the program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 808-596-8155, and select option 1.
If you live on the island of Hawaii or Kauai, you can get money to reduce your mortgage payments or pay overdue mortgage payments and prevent a foreclosure.
Here are the eligibility requirements for this program.
You don't have to be delinquent on your mortgage payments to qualify for the program and can apply by clicking on this link. You can also enroll by phone or in-person:
Homeowners on Hawaii Island and Kauai are also encouraged to register for one of the "Know Your Options to Prevent Foreclosure" hour-long workshops. Call 808-587-7656 for more information and to register. You can also review the program's FAQs and this downloadable pdf. If you apply, the program will connect you with a housing counselor who will help you (for free) create a plan for homeownership.
Maui's Community Development Block Grant program provides money so homeowners can make mortgage payments, up to $2,500.00 per month. To qualify, you must be a Maui County resident and at-risk of homelessness because you're unable to pay your mortgage.
Assistance is structured as a grant that you don't have to repay. You would only need to repay the money if you commit fraud or wrongful misrepresentation in the application process.
The payments go directly to the loan servicer or other approved entity, not to homeowners.
If you get an unsolicited offer by phone, in the U.S. mail, through email, or by text message offering mortgage relief or foreclosure rescue services, be wary. 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.
You can get help with your application, as well as information about ways to avoid foreclosure, from a HUD-approved housing counselor who will assist you at no cost. To find a counselor near you, go to HUD's website or call 800-569-4287.
Effective date: March 4, 2022