The Montana Department of Commerce announced today $50 million in federal assistance funding is now available to help Montana homeowners impacted by the pandemic stay in their homes and get caught up on their mortgage and utility bills.
The funding, available through Montana Housing’s Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program, helps homeowners who have experienced a financial hardship that has worsened or incurred after January 21, 2020. A financial hardship means a reduction in income, or an increase in living expenses associated with the coronavirus pandemic that has created, or increased, a risk of mortgage delinquency, mortgage default, foreclosure, loss of utilities or home energy services, or homeowner displacement.
“Currently, Commerce has aided more than 8,400 Montanans with more than $66 million of rent and utility assistance. Now, through our HAF program, we have an opportunity to help eligible Montana homeowners as well,” said Montana Department of Commerce Director Scott Osterman. “The HAF program is designed to assist our friends and neighbors impacted by the pandemic to get caught up on their mortgages, pay utility bills, and most importantly, stay in their homes.”
Eligible homeowners may use HAF funds three ways:
Mortgage Reinstatement: Financial assistance, in the form of an interest-free loan, to bring a mortgage account current with no remaining delinquent amounts, including payments, under a forbearance plan, and to repay amounts advanced by the lender or servicer on the homeowner’s behalf for property charges.
Lien Prevention: Financial assistance in the form of a grant to prevent property tax foreclosure or remove or prevent creation of other liens that would place a homeowner at imminent risk of displacement.
Utilities/Internet: Financial assistance in the form of a grant to assist with electric, gas, home energy costs, and internet/broadband services.
The HAF program will serve Montanans whose gross household income does not exceed 150 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). Additionally, 60 percent of funds available must target Montanans whose gross household income does not exceed 100 percent of the AMI. Applicants can check their income eligibility using Montana Housing’s online tool on the HAF website.
“Our Homeowner Assistance Fund Pilot Program has already helped over 45 Montana homeowners get caught up on their mortgages with over $450,000 in reinstatement loans.” said Montana Housing Division Administrator Cheryl Cohen. “We’re excited to launch the statewide program to offer reinstatement loans, lien prevention grants, and assistance with home energy costs to help qualified Montana homeowners remain in their homes and regain some financial equilibrium.”
The Montana Homeowner Assistance Fund’s $50 million in federal funding was allocated by Congress to the State of Montana through the American Rescue Plan Act, and appropriated to the Department of Commerce through the passage of HB 632.
HAF eligibility is tied to financial hardship relating to the pandemic. Homeowners impacted by the recent flooding should take this property damage survey.
To apply for HAF, visit HOUSING.MT.GOV.