After a three-month pause, the Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) says it will resume accepting new applications for the pandemic-era Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund Program on March 8. OHCS says there are enough funds to support another 700 eligible homeowners.
The program was paused on Nov. 30, 2022. OHCS said that time was needed to asses the applications that had already been submitted, project how much funding remained and to do some system maintenance.
“The program offers federal temporary COVID-19 emergency mortgage relief intended to support homeowners who have experienced severe financial hardships due to the pandemic,” OHCS said in a statement. “It provides funding for past-due mortgages and other housing expenses, as well as ongoing payment assistance, to a limited number of homeowners with low to moderate incomes.”
OHCS says the program will reopen with a focus on homeowners in active foreclosure and those traditionally underserved by mortgage markets.
The state is prioritizing Oregon households that are at the highest risk of foreclosure, OHCS said. Once the $72 million of funding available for homeowners is gone, the program will close.
“Even if homeowners are eligible, there is no guarantee their application will be funded. Other loss mitigation options depend on a homeowner’s mortgage and their servicer. Homeowners should evaluate all their options,” OHCS said.
More information about eligibility requirements can be found at this link, which is also where people can apply starting on March 8.
Here is more from OHCS via a press release:
Free help is available
Homeowners can get free help from certified housing counselors around the state to learn about budgeting tools and evaluation of options to keep their homes, such as modifications, adding deferred payments to the end of a mortgage, or HAF. Housing counselors are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated professionals who can help homeowners communicate with their mortgage servicers.
Search the full list of free certified housing counselors by county. Homeowners should be aware that some housing counseling agencies take longer to respond due to remote working policies.
In addition to connecting with a certified housing counselor, Oregon homeowners should directly contact their mortgage servicers and lenders to see what types of mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention programs are available. Homeowners who communicate with their lenders and servicers have some additional protections and usually have more time to figure out their options.
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services recommends being extremely cautious with offers to help from unauthorized companies or people. Homeowners are urged not to provide financial or personal information unless they verify the company or person’s licensing status. It does not cost anything to apply for the HAF program or meet with an Oregon housing counselor.
There are a number of common warning signs homeowners should watch out for that may indicate a scam. If a homeowner suspects they’re being contacted by a scammer, they can file a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Oregon Department of Justice, or the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General.
To verify a lender’s license, visit the Division of Financial Regulation’s license page and compare it with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) license number. This number must be included on all advertising materials and should be easy to find. To verify a housing counseling agency’s status with the state, make sure they are listed on the OHCS website.