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 Maine who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a piece of the approximately $50 million allocated to the state—up to $25,000 per household—from its Homeowner Assistance Fund program. This program uses federal money to help homeowners make mortgage payments and pay other home-related costs, like insurance, homeowners' association fees, property taxes, and utility bills.
You can use money from Maine's Homeowner Assistance Fund program (again, up to $25,000) to pay:
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:
Assistance is structured as a nonrecourse grant that you don't have to repay. Homeowners will only need to repay the money in cases of fraud or wrongful misrepresentation.
Payments from the program go directly to the loan servicer or other approved entity, not to homeowners.
After the program launches, probably on or around May 2, 2022, you'll be able to submit your application online. To get updates about when and how you can apply, sign up here.
To start the application process, you first have to answer some prescreening eligibility questions. If you pass the prescreening quiz, then you'll register and complete the application using the online portal. You'll have to provide some documentation with your application, like mortgage statements or statements for your other housing-related costs, and proof of income, such as pay stubs and tax returns.
After you submit your application and supporting documentation, you can go back to the portal to get status updates for your application.
Maine's Homeowner Assistance Fund program will last as long as funds remain available; the program expects to get more applications than can be funded. So, if you think you might qualify for assistance, it's best to apply as soon as possible.
If you get an unsolicited offer by phone, mail, email, or 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.
If you have questions or need help with your application, the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection has contracted with a statewide network of nonprofit agencies that assist homeowners. Call the Bureau's foreclosure prevention hotline at 888-664-2569, TTY 711, to connect with a counselor or fill out this contact form. Also, review the program's FAQs.
Effective date: May 2, 2022