Rent and Mortgage Assistance: Everything You Need to Know
Point of Interest
If the pandemic has negatively impacted your ability to pay your rent or mortgage, there are federal, state, and city programs designed to help you get back on your feet.
Across the nation, homeowners and renters are struggling to pay for housing due to the economic impact of coronavirus. As residents grapple with lost jobs, lost wages and how to stay safe, bills might pile up — without the means to pay them. Luckily, there are both state and federal government programs that were designed to help those most impacted by COVID-19.
Rent and mortgage assistance: How does it work?
There are different kinds of rent and mortgage assistance available to individuals dealing with financial hardship. For example, if your home loan is federally insured, you’re likely eligible for loan forbearance through the CARES Act. If your home loan isn’t federally insured, you can contact your loan servicer directly to ask about your options.
Alternatively, you can look into options available through state-funded programs. In many cases, you’ll be able to enter a period of forbearance or make reduced mortgage payments. You may also be able to modify your existing home loan.
Renters typically need to apply for help through specific state and city programs, which are sometimes federally funded by HUD. Renters may also qualify for public housing and low income housing tax credits to help pay for rent.
If you have an FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, you may be eligible to receive a temporary forbearance in response to financial hardship due to coronavirus. Borrowers are entitled to an initial forbearance period of up to 180 days. Once the first 180 days are up, the forbearance can be extended for another 180 days. No fees or interest will be applied during this period of paused loan payments. Around 7.5% of all home loan borrowers are now in forbearance programs.
The CARES Act also prevents landlords with federally-backed mortgages from evicting tenants struggling with rent. Landlords who opt for forbearance must agree to not charge late fees or other penalties. The CARES Act doesn’t give renters direct financial assistance, but it did dole out an extra $17.4 billion to the Department of Housing and Urban Develop (HUD) for existing housing programs like rent assistance, housing grants, housing vouchers and help for underprivileged communities.
Need help with housing payments? Here are the resources available by state
Note: If your state isn’t listed here, it doesn’t mean your state doesn’t offer resources to help during an emergency. In many cases, funding from the CARES Act has been portioned out to existing state and county housing programs. Check your state’s government website for more information.
Save Our Home AZ is a foreclosure assistance program for unemployed and underemployed Arizona residents who want to reduce their principal mortgage amount and apply for monthly mortgage subsidy assistance. Find more info here.
The California government has a resource page of banks, credit unions and mortgage lenders who have agreed to provide relief for those affected by the pandemic.
The state has also published a guide to the resources available to California residents to get food assistance, housing, rent relief and access to other social services.
You can apply for mortgage help by applying for hardship assistance through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority.
Homeowners and renters can find resources for mortgage relief and residential rent protections on the state of Connecticut’s COVID-19 housing resource page. In addition, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority has provided guidance for homeowners, lender and property managers.
District of Columbia
Homeowners can apply for COVID-19 mortgage relief through the Department of Housing and Community Development Loans.
Florida’s state website offers resources for finding lenders and realtors who offer loan payment assistance. Homeowners can also apply for SHIP, the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program, which provides families and individuals with housing help and resources.
Idaho Housing and Finance Association and HomeLoanServ have programs to modify home loans and defer mortgage payments. You can also apply for rental assistance, which is based on your risk of eviction, income and utility shut-offs.
In August, the Illinois Housing Development Agency will open applications for Emergency Mortgage Assistance and Emergency Rental Assistance for individuals and families dealing with the impact of lost income. Rental assistance is available through local agencies.
Homeowners can apply for mortgage assistance through Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund, which can give you money for up to six months or up to $30,000. Other regular housing programs available to residents of Indiana also received additional funding from the CARES Act, which you can get more information on here.
MaineHousing’s COVID-19 Rent Relief program is designed for renters who can’t make rent. The program provides a one-time payment of up to $500. Resources for homeowners who are struggling due to COVID-19 can be found here.
Massachusetts offers Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) to help keep households stable in the face of a loss of income or utility shutoff. To apply for RAFT, you can visit the HED Fuel site.
For families and individuals in need of emergency assistance in Minnesota, you can find resources on the county level here.
About $123 million is available for emergency grants to support homeowners, renters and others in Montana. The Emergency Housing Assistance Program is also available to eligible Montanans. Find more info on how to apply here.
The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) disbursed $120,000 to help meet immediate housing needs caused by the pandemic. You can find the specific organizations that can help low-income earners find affordable housing here.
The West Virginia Housing Development Fund can help homeowners request a forbearance plan for their mortgage payments.
The Washington government website has a page full of state-specific resources for options for rental and mortgage assistance.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority is working on a case-by-case to help homeowners keep their homes through the pandemic.
The final word
If you’re struggling to pay your rent or your mortgage, contact your loan servicer or landlord as quickly as possible to explain your situation. If you don’t have a federally insured loan or if you rent, you can still qualify for help through city, county and state programs designed to assist individuals dealing with lost wages, lost jobs and other issues related to the pandemic. There are resources out there for struggling families and individuals to get through the crisis and on the rebound.