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-related expenses due to COVID-19.
Eligible homeowners in Vermont who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a piece of the $50 million allocated to the state—up to $30,000 per household—from the Vermont Homeowner Assistance Program (VT HAP). This program uses federal money to help homeowners get caught up on overdue mortgage payments and other housing-related expenses, like past-due homeowners' association fees, property taxes, and utilities.
VT HAP offers money to eligible Vermont homeowners to pay the following kinds of delinquent housing-related expenses:
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. Examples of financial hardships include, among others:
Eligible hardships include those that started before January 21, 2020, and continued after that date.
Also, you must currently own and occupy the property, located in Vermont, as your primary residence. Your annual household income must be equal to or less than 150% of the area median income. To find out if you potentially qualify, take this eligibility quiz.
Assistance is structured as a grant that you don't have to repay. VT HAP payments go directly to the loan servicer or other approved entity, not to homeowners.
To apply for help from this program, go to the website for the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (the program administrator) and click on "Apply Now." You'll have to provide some documentation with your application, like paperwork showing your housing-related costs, including mortgage statements and property tax bills, as well as proof of income, such as pay stubs or tax returns.
The program will continue until the earlier of September 30, 2026, or when all of the funds allotted to the program have been exhausted. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, and funding is awarded based on applicant need. So, if you think you might qualify, it's best to apply as soon as possible.
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. Getting VT HAP assistance 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.
For more information about available assistance from this program, call 833-221-4208 or go to the VT HAP website, where you can find a list of FAQs and details about the application process. You can also sign up for email updates about the program.
Effective date: January 24, 2022