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 New York who've experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a piece of the $539 million allocated to the state—up to $50,000 per household—from the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund (NYS HAF) program. This program uses federal money to help low- to moderate-income homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments, property taxes, condo and coop fees, water or sewage bills, and manufactured home loans or monthly lot rents.
The NYS HAF program provides money to eligible homeowners in New York to:
To qualify for the program, your household income must be equal to or less than 100% of the area median income (AMI). You must also be at risk of foreclosure (at least 30 days behind on your mortgage payments, property taxes, condo or coop fees, etc.) or displacement due to a financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. But if you're up to date on your monthly housing payments and currently unemployed, you can apply for up to six months of future housing payments. You also must own and occupy the property for which you're seeking assistance as your primary residence.
You might qualify for assistance in any of the following situations:
Borrowers in default on a reverse mortgage can also qualify.
Assistance is structured as a five-year, non-interest-bearing, non-amortizing forgivable loan. If the homeowner remains in the home for five years, the loan will be fully forgiven. But if you sell, refinance, or transfer ownership of the home within five years, you might have to repay the amount you received.
NYS HAF will start accepting applications on January 3, 2022. Go here to apply. You'll have to provide some documentation with your application, like mortgage statements, proof of income (such as pay stubs or tax returns), and a government-issued ID (like a driver's license). For a complete list of the items you'll need, go here.
The application period will stay open for 30 days. If funds aren't fully allotted at the end of the 30 days, the application period will be extended for at least another 30 days.
NYS HAF expects to receive significantly more applications than the program can fund. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis and some people will probably miss out on getting financial assistance. 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. The NYS HAF 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. If you experience fraud associated with this program, be sure to report it.
If you need more information, call 844-776-9423 or go to the NYS HAF website. The website includes an FAQ section and a step-by-step application guide. If you need help with your application, contact a HUD-approved housing counselor who will assist you at no cost. To find a counselor near you, go to the NYS HAF website or HUD's website or call 800-569-4287.
Effective date: January 3, 2022