Lose Income Due to COVID-19? Homeowners and Renters May be Eligible for Assistance in Pennsylvania
Both renters and homeowners who lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic will be able to retrieve applications for rent and mortgage relief beginning Monday, June 29, via the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. The agency will begin accepting completed applications for rent and mortgage assistance on July 6, when people will be able to submit their applications and supporting paperwork to a county organization chosen by PHFA for review.
To be eligible to apply, renters and homeowners must show documentation of at least a 30% reduction in annual income since March 1 due to COVID-19. The Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act provided $3.9 billion for Pennsylvania and is intended to help people hurt economically during the pandemic. In late May, the General Assembly directed $175 million of these CARES dollars to PHFA to provide assistance for struggling renters and homeowners. The portion for rent assistance is at least $150 million, and $25 million was set aside for mortgage assistance.
Homeowners who became unemployed after March 1 or who suffered at least a 30% reduction in annual income due to reduced work hours and wages related to COVID-19 may be eligible for financial assistance to help with missed mortgage payments. To qualify for the Pandemic Mortgage Assistance Program, they must be an owner-occupant of their residence, the dwelling must consist of one or two separate units, the mortgage must be at least 30 days delinquent and the homeowner’s annual household income must not exceed the area median income for their county of residence, adjusted for the number of people in their home. Homeowners can receive up to $1,000 per month for a maximum of six months. The time period eligible for assistance is for mortgage payments owed from March 2020 through Dec. 2020, however any CARES assistance provided must be disbursed by Nov. 30, 2020. Financial assistance payments through this program will be made directly to the mortgagee. Homeowners or their lenders can apply for mortgage relief, but homeowners are responsible for providing all the documents needed to determine their eligibility.
For renters to be eligible for financial assistance under the CARES Rent Relief Program, they will need to document at least a 30% reduction in annual income since March 1 related to COVID-19, or they must have become unemployed after March 1. If unemployed, they must have filed for unemployment compensation with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Their household income cannot exceed the area median income for their county of residence, adjusted for the number of people in their home, according to the PHFA. Renters who qualify may receive assistance equal to 100% of their monthly rent up to $750 a month for a maximum of six months of assistance for the time period between March 1 and Nov. 30, 2020. Payments will be made to their landlord on their behalf. Renters or landlords can apply for rent relief for apartment tenants, but renters are responsible for submitting all the documents needed to ensure their eligibility.
There is a red banner located at the top of PHFA’s homepage that will lead applicants to the necessary documents when available. The agency’s call center is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist the public and help with questions about the programs via 1-855-U-Are-Home (827-3466). Callers should listen for the prompt mentioning CARES assistance for renters and homeowners. PHFA is a sponsor of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®.
For more information, join the Housing Alliance of PA for a free webinar discussion with the Director of Policy and Planning for PHFA Bryce Maretzki, who will provide details on implementation of the new rental assistance and mortgage relief program for people impacted by COVID-19 related job loss on Wednesday, July 1 at 11 a.m. Click here to register.