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 $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 Arkansas who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a piece of the $54 million allocated to the state—up to $40,000 per household—from the Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund program. This program uses federal money to help homeowners in Arkansas make mortgage payments and pay other home-related expenses like delinquent property taxes, homeowners' association fees, and insurance.
Available Financial Help for Arkansas Homeowners
The Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund program provides financial assistance to cover the following housing-related expenses:
a mortgage delinquency
utility and internet access services, and
property taxes, hazard insurance premiums, flood or wind insurance premiums, ground rents, condominium fees, cooperative maintenance fees, planned unit development fees, homeowners' association fees, or utilities that the servicer advanced to protect lien position (if included within escrow).
Eligibility Requirements for the Arkansas 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. A hardship that began before January 21, 2020, but continued after that qualifies.
In addition, you have to meet some other guidelines:
You must currently own and occupy the property, located in Arkansas, as your primary residence.
Your household income must be at or below 150% of the area median income or 100% of the United States Median Income, whichever is greater.
The property can't be vacant, abandoned, or condemned.
The loan must be held by a lender/servicer with a Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) number. So, for example, a federally backed or privately-funded mortgage qualifies. Private party mortgages aren't eligible for assistance.
The mortgage loan must be two or more months past due when you apply. If you're approved for a reinstatement, and your loan is then paid current, you must be able to resume making monthly payments.
If you're applying for utility, internet, or broadband payment assistance:
You must be at least two installment payments in arrears on one or more of the following: utilities, such as electric, gas, home energy, and water, or internet service, including broadband internet access service. If you're on a payment plan for utility or internet expenses incurred before the application date, those expenses will be considered arrears and can be included as eligible expenses.
You must certify that assistance will be sufficient to resolve the delinquency isn't available from Arkansas Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and, without this assistance, you're likely to lose services.
How the Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund Program Works
Assistance is structured as a grant that you don't have to repay. Payments go directly to the loan servicer or other approved entity, not to homeowners.
How to Apply for the Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund Program
To apply, go to apply.arkansashaf.com or contact the call center at 888-698-0964. If you're not able to apply online, the program's mailing address is:
Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund 1 Commerce Way, #12 Little Rock, AR 72202
The program's fax number is 855-461-3251.
You'll have to provide some documentation with your application, like mortgage statements, proof of income (such as pay stubs and tax returns), and a government-issued ID (like a driver's license). Click here for a complete list of documents you'll need to provide.
If you're denied assistance, you can appeal within 30 days of the denial letter's date.
Avoid Homeowner Assistance Fund Scams
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. The Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund program is free. If anyone asks you to pay a fee to get housing counseling or foreclosure prevention services from this program, it's a scam.
Learn More About the Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund Program
Call 888-698-0964 or go to the program's Resources website if you need more information.