New York State to Launch $539 Million Homeowners Assistance Fund

ALBANY—New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Dec. 6 that New York State is the first state in the nation to receive U.S. Department of the Treasury’s approval to launch its Homeowner Assistance Fund, a program that will provide up to $539 million to help eligible homeowners avert mortgage delinquency, default, foreclosure, and displacement.

Applications will begin being accepted on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.

“Many New Yorkers are still recovering from the pandemic, and just like we did for renters, our state is now leading the way to provide much-needed economic relief to vulnerable homeowners across the state,” Gov. Hochul said. “We know that the economic pain of the pandemic has been felt disproportionately in rural communities, communities of color, and immigrant communities, and this program is a demonstration of our commitment to placing the needs of New Yorkers in need at the heart of our work. We thank the Biden Administration and our entire congressional delegation for securing this critical lifeline, and New York is ready to support homeowners in need every step of the way.”

The state has also announced the launch of the NYS HAF program website, an information call center, and a multi-lingual marketing campaign that will help educate homeowners about the program and ensure all New Yorkers, especially those in non-English speaking households, are ready to apply when the application window opens on Jan. 3, 2022.

Designed and administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal, NYS HAF will target low- to moderate-income homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments, property taxes, water or sewer bills, as well as owners of cooperative or condo units behind on maintenance fees, and manufactured homeowners behind on chattel loans or retail installment contracts.

Eligible applicants may receive financial assistance to catch up on missed housing payments, to reduce mortgage debt to make monthly mortgage payments more affordable, and for homeowners who are unemployed, assistance with up to six months of future housing payments.

Eligible applicants must have household incomes at or below 100% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and must be at least 30 days delinquent on monthly housing payments for their primary residence. Awards will be capped at $50,000 per household. Assistance will be structured as a five-year, non-interest, non-amortizing forgivable loan. If the homeowner remains in the home for a period of five years, the loan will be fully forgiven.

In addition, the NYS HAF program is working in partnership with the Office of the New York State Attorney General to advocate with mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers to ensure homeowners are receiving all available relief under federal and state rules. This includes extended mortgage terms, deferment of missed payments or forbearance amounts, and lower interest rates to reduce monthly payments.

The NYS HAF program will be managed by Sustainable Neighborhoods LLC, a non-profit community development financial institution selected through a competitive Request for Proposals. Sustainable Neighborhoods has extensive experience administering foreclosure prevention and loss mitigation programs across the state.

Immediately upon taking office, Gov. Hochul worked aggressively to break the logjam in New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, bringing the state from the back of the pack to the front in terms of distributing relief to those in need. Under her leadership, rent relief payments quintupled, with New York State now having paid out or obligated approximately $2.1 billion in rental assistance covering more than 164,000 applications, including more than 90,000 payments to landlords to date.

Additionally, the state provided $125 million in assistance for landlords whose tenants did not participate in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program or who have vacated their residence with arrears. Further, upon recognizing that more assistance was needed, Gov. Hochul also filed an application with the U.S. Department of Treasury for an additional nearly $1 billion in relief for New Yorkers.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “It is critical that we pre-empt a cascade of defaults, foreclosures, and displacement, that would undermine the stability of our communities, devastate the property tax base, and leave local economies reeling. For the thousands of at-risk homeowners who we anticipate being eligible for this program, we can put them back on sound financial footing where they will not lose a generation of advances in homeownership.”

Senator Charles Schumer said, “Every New Yorker deserves a safe and secure place to call home, and I am proud we delivered the federal funding for the Homeowner Assistance Fund to help struggling New York homeowners impacted by the pandemic stay in their homes. When I led the American Rescue Plan to passage in the Senate, I championed provisions to help our most vulnerable residents who are behind on payments due to COVID recover and avert foreclosure. Access to safe and reliable housing is a fundamental right, and I will not stop fighting and delivering for New Yorker homeowners to help them recover.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated housing insecurity in communities across New York State. This federal funding is an important step to help ensure that low- and moderate-income homeowners at risk of displacement, especially those in areas historically subject to housing discrimination, can keep the heat on, water flowing, and a roof over their heads. I’ll keep fighting to make sure every New Yorker has a place to call home.”

As part of the program launch, HCR and Sustainable Neighborhoods have already hired 23 community-based organizations to perform targeted outreach to homeowners who may be at risk, specifically in areas historically subjected to housing discrimination, areas where homeowners may have limited access to the internet, and communities where there is a high level of homeownership distress.

During this outreach period, the NYS HAF call center will operate Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist homeowners and provide critical information about the program and instructions on how to apply.

The NYS HAF website includes Frequently Asked Questions, a step-by-step application guide, and a document checklist so that applicants know what documentation may be needed to submit their application.

The website, supporting materials, and call center are available to homeowners in 10 languages – Arabic, Bengali, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish.

In addition, HCR has formed a partnership with more than 70 non-profit housing counseling and legal service providers, members of the NY Homeowner Protection Program, who will have direct access to the on-line application portal and who will be able to submit multiple applications on behalf of their clients. The HOPP network will also serve as an outgoing referral network for applicants who request assistance with the application process, or who need urgent legal assistance.

Source:  “New York State to Launch $539 Million Homeowners Assistance Fund.” Real Estate in Depth, 7 Dec. 2021, https://www.realestateindepth.com/news/new-york-state-to-launch-539-million-homeowners-assistance-fund/. 

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