Maine Homeowner Assistance Fund
Update, December 20, 2021
On December 16, 2021, an important milestone was reached in our state’s efforts to participate in the federal Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program. On that day, the US Treasury notified the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection that the Bureau’s HAF plan had been approved. A link to the approved plan is found here.
The Bureau expects the US Treasury will soon wire to the Maine State Treasury the balance of the $50 million that will come to this state to fund the Maine HAF program. The funds will benefit low- to moderate-income and socially disadvantaged homeowners statewide who can demonstrate they have been economically impacted by the Covid pandemic.
The program is still at least two months away from “going live.” The following tasks remain:
- The Bureau is awaiting approval of its recommended software provider, which was selected from fifteen bidders that responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP). The software will facilitate the operation of the program, by establishing an electronic portal for applications from homeowners, as well as “back end” processing, and production of the reporting and accounting documents required for federal and state audits of the program;
- The Bureau must enter into agreements with its non-profit housing counseling and legal assistance partners across the State of Maine;
- Policies and procedures for eligibility must be established; and
- Payment processes must be established with mortgage servicers, utility companies and municipalities.
The Bureau has been hearing from many interested parties, including homeowners, non-profit providers, mortgage servicers and others. For those reasons, it’s important to understand the reach of the program, and also its limits:
- Unlike other recent federal programs in which consumers received payments directly, the Maine HAF program – and similar programs in other states – call for payments to go to creditors of the homeowners. This includes mortgage lenders and servicers, municipalities (for tax liens) and utility companies (for past-due utility payments).
- At least in its initial phases, funds are available only to those consumers whose household income is equal to or less than the “average median income” for their area of the state. The Bureau will post the specific dollar limits in the near future, so homeowners can check their income eligibility.
- Consistent with US Treasury’s guidance, before being eligible for Maine HAF funds, homeowners seeking assistance with overdue mortgage payments of any type will be required to demonstrate they have applied for whatever loss mitigation programs are available from their lender or servicer.
If you are a homeowner who would benefit from free foreclosure housing counseling to assist in exploring your loss mitigation options, call the Bureau’s Foreclosure Prevention Hotline at 1-888-664-2569.
Questions about the Homeowner Assistance Fund? Submit them here.
Click here to be placed on the interested parties mailing list for the Maine HAF .