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 Oregon who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a portion of the approximately $90 million allocated to the state—up to $60,000 per household—by applying to Oregon's Homeowner Assistance Fund program. This program uses federal money to help homeowners pay past-due and upcoming mortgage payments and other housing-related costs.
The Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund has two programs: the past-due payment relief program and the ongoing payment relief program. If you qualify for both programs, you can get up to $60,000 in assistance.
The past-due payment relief program provides up to $50,000 to eliminate or reduce overdue balances for specific housing costs, like:
The ongoing payment relief program provides money to eligible homeowners to pay upcoming mortgage and housing expenses. This program has two "tracks."
To qualify for relief from Oregon's Homeowner Assistance Fund 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 started on or before that date and continued afterward qualifies.
You also must live in the home and be listed as a borrower on the mortgage or are the property's owner. In addition, you have to meet one of the following income limit conditions:
Oregon's Homeowner Assistance Fund is opening in phases, initially focusing on homeowners who are the most at risk of losing the property to a foreclosure or being displaced, like because of a property tax foreclosure, or who have few or no loss mitigation options (Phases 1 and 2). Phases 1 and 2 are now open for applicants.
In most cases, homeowners must get foreclosure avoidance counseling and review their loss mitigation options with a free housing counselor before applying for assistance. Though some exceptions apply. If you're facing imminent foreclosure or displacement, you can apply immediately. To find out if you're eligible, take a prescreening quiz.
Homeowners who qualify for loss mitigation options through their servicer aren't eligible for Phases 1 or 2 of this program. For instance, if you have a federally backed mortgage loan, you can get a COVID-19 forbearance. 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.
You may apply to Oregon's Homeowner Assistance Fund program even if you're in a modification or forbearance. But your servicer might not participate in the program. Or you might become ineligible for certain modification or forbearance options if you get help from this program. Contact your loan servicer or a housing counselor (see "Learn More About Oregon's Homeowner Assistance Fund Program" below) to get more information.
Phase 3, which will primarily focus on homeowners traditionally underserved or less able to recover from a hardship, like those over age 62, disabled persons, and socially disadvantaged individuals, will open in June 2022. Phase 4, which will be open to all eligible homeowners, will open later.
Assistance is in the form of a five-year, 0%-interest, forgivable loan that's recorded as a junior lien on your property. After five years, the loan is forgiven. But if you sell the property or refinance it for cash within five years, you might have to repay the part of the loan that hasn't yet been forgiven, plus the county title recording fees. And the loan isn't forgivable if you commit fraud, provide false information, or fail to provide income or hardship documentation.
Payments from the program go directly to the loan servicer or other approved entity, not to homeowners.
You'll have to provide some documentation with your application, like mortgage statements and other paperwork to support your application. Review the program's document checklist to find out what you'll need to supply, read the factsheet to get details about the program, and download this process overview.
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. You can report instances of fraud to Oregon Housing and Community Services using a form, available in English or Spanish.
If you need help with the application process or have questions about Oregon's Homeowner Assistance Fund program, contact Oregon Housing and Community Services at 833-604-0879 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact a homeowner center and speak with a housing counselor. Also, review this application guide.
To learn more about this program and find out about different resources for homeowners, see the Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund's "Resources" website. You can also sign up to receive emails about program updates.
Effective date: April 25, 2022