Mortgage aid is now available to Pa. homeowners

Tim Grant
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

Pennsylvania homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments or pay other housing bills as a result of pandemic-related financial hardships can now apply to receive financial aid from a $350 million pool of federal funds allocated to the state.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) began accepting applications this week for the $350 million in aid that will create the Pennsylvania Homeowners Assistance Fund. The federal funding, which came from the American Rescue Plan Act, was recently awarded to the state through the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF).

The $350 million represents Pennsylvania's share of more than $9 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding to U.S. states to help homeowners who suffered financial setbacks during the public health crisis.

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"This program will be a life raft for the rising number of homeowners facing possible loss of their homes and foreclosures as a result of the financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their lives," said Gov. Tom Wolf.

To qualify, the home must be the homeowners' primary residence and the financial hardship must have occurred after Jan. 21, 2020. The applicant also must have an income below 150% of the area median income. In York County, that would come out to about $103,000 for a family of four.

The funds will be paid directly to lenders and mortgage servicers, not to homeowners.

The state must spend the $350 million by September 2026.

The federal aid will help homeowners with getting their mortgages reinstated, making forward mortgage payments and paying for charges that have come against the property as a result of the homeowners' financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund also will cover utility payments to help homeowners avoid service disconnections, according to a statement released by PHFA.

PHFA executive director and CEO Robin Wiessman, said the American Rescue Plan funds will be critical in keeping Pennsylvanians in their homes and supporting the state's economic recovery.

"Across the commonwealth, homeowners have struggled to cope with pandemic-related financial hardships," Wiessman said. "The launch of PAHAF ensures that eligible Pennsylvania homeowners receive the support and stability they need now more than ever."

Applications can be done entirely online by visiting www.pahaf.org.

Those who need in-person assistance with their application, housing counseling agencies or legal service providers across the state can call 888-987-2423 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.