What is homeowner assistance?
If you’re having trouble affording your mortgage, property taxes, utilities, or important repairs on your home, you don’t have to face it alone. Help is available in your area! The biggest source of relief for homeowners is the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), which is overseen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and administered by states. (It was launched as part of the American Rescue Plan to help people financially impacted by COVID-19.) The HAF can help you pay those homeowner-related expenses you’re struggling with.
The State of Georgia received $354 million in funding for HAF to help struggling homeowners. If you’re approved for HAF, you’re eligible for up to $50,000 of assistance — including for due or past-due mortgage and property tax payments.
There are even more financial resources, assistance, and counseling available to you at the state, city, and local level. Help with utility bills in the Atlanta area is linked below.
How do I know if I’m eligible for rental assistance?
Go to Georgia Mortgage Assistance to find out if you’re eligible for HAF. (Note: If you’ve submitted an application for assistance and have a foreclosure sale date, email them directly ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Eligibility criteria include income requirements and that you must have suffered a hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic after January 21, 2020.
Outside of HAF, there are many non-profits that can help with your housing costs. To find out what’s available to you, get in touch with a HUD Housing Counselor, who can go over your options. They can also help you find alternative resources if you’re not eligible for HAF.
Benefits and eligibility can vary by county and even borough, so don’t be discouraged if your friend in Forsyth County tells you they can’t find anything, while you live in Fulton County. When you find specific programs you’re eligible for, put the deadlines in your calendar (and set a reminder for before the deadline), and start getting together proof of income and other required documentation.
Foreclosure in Georgia
Unfortunately, the foreclosure moratorium has lapsed in Georgia, and does not look like it will be reintroduced any time soon. However, if you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan and you apply to your state's HAF program, your mortgage servicer will be required to suspend any foreclosure activity for up to 60 days. Under federal law, your mortgage servicer can't officially begin a foreclosure until you’re more than 120 days past due on payments, with some exceptions. Before that, no later than 36 days after a missed payment, your servicer is required to contact, or attempt to contact, you by phone to discuss your options, like a loan modification, forbearance, or repayment plan. And 45 days after a missed payment, they have to inform you in writing of your options.
Visit the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's housing assistance portal for relief, local assistance programs and protections, and what to do next if you’ve lost your home.
More Local Resources
- Georgia Mortgage Assistance is your primary governmental portal for homeowner assistance and information
- If you might need to move, it might be time to explore subsidized housing through Section 8 (the Housing Choice Voucher program). GA.gov has a bunch of listings to help you get on wait lists
- KIPP Metro Atlanta schools also has a gigantic list of agencies, churches, and other organizations that provide some form of assistance. While it’s mostly aimed at renters instead of homeowners, you’ll find several options for help with utilities. The list was posted a few years ago, so some of the organizations may not still be providing help, but many still are!