Homeowner Assistance Fund

The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Program was established under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“the ARP”) to mitigate financial hardships associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The HAF Program provides funds for the purpose of preventing homeowner mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020 through qualified expenses related to mortgages and housing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  When will Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) money be available?

A:  Montana’s Homeowner Assistance Fund Plan was submitted to the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) on September 28, 2021 and is awaiting review and approval. Montana is working with the National Council of State Housing Agencies to expedite the process as much as possible.

 

Q:  Must I have a Montana Board of Housing loan in order to apply for HAF assistance?

A:  No.  If your home is owner occupied, located in Montana, and you meet eligibility requirements, you can apply for assistance even if your loan is not provided by the Montana Board of Housing.

 

Q:  Why is emergency rental assistance available now for renters, but not homeowners?

A:  The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is funded through the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was signed into law in December 2020. The Homeowner Assistance Fund Program is included in the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law in March 2021. Treasury released funding and guidance for the rental assistance program much earlier than it did for homeowner assistance. The Montana Department of Commerce will work as quickly as possible to make funding available to Montana’s homeowners as soon as Treasury approves its Homeowner Assistance Fund plan.

 

Q:  Will all Montana homeowners be eligible to receive assistance?

A:  No; certain qualifying requirements must be met, including:  

  • The homeowner must be listed as the borrower or co-borrower on the mortgage;
  • The qualified expenses must be related to the current primary residence;
  • The home must be owner occupied;
  • The applicant must have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19 after January 21, 2021; and
  • The household income must be less than 150% area median income. 

 

Q: Does financial hardship due to COVID-19 mean job loss?

A:  Financial hardship means a material reduction in income or material 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 displacement for a homeowner.

 

Q:  How will I know when HAF funding is available?

A:  The Montana Department of Commerce will publicly announce on its website when funds become available.  The department will work with mortgage servicers so they can inform Montana borrowers, and it will conduct a public outreach campaign as well. 

 

Q:  How do I apply for the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program?

A:  Montana Housing will have an application portal on its website where borrowers will be able to apply and upload necessary documentation.

 

Q:  Will the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program pay off my mortgage for me?

A:  No; the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program is meant to provide funds to eliminate or reduce past due payments, including those under a forbearance plan.  HAF funds may be used to bring an account fully current, with no remaining delinquent amount.

 

Q: Will I have to pay the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program funds back?

A: Yes; the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program will be in the form of a non-forgivable, interest-free loan with payment due in full when the first mortgage ends (repayment, refinance, transfer, or sale).  It is not a grant program.

 

Q: Will the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program make ongoing mortgage payments?

A: No; homeowners must affirm that they reasonably believe, based on the reinstatement and the homeowner’s current financial circumstances, that they will be able to continue making mortgage loan payments and avoid displacement.  Homeowners for whom reinstatement will not be a long-term solution (unable to resume regularly scheduled payments, even with assistance through the HAF program), will not be eligible for reinstatement and will be referred to their mortgage servicer to explore other loss mitigation options.

 

Q:  Which costs can the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program cover?

A:  The HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program, subject to Treasury approval, can repay delinquent mortgage payments and amounts advanced by the lender or servicer on the borrower’s behalf for property charges, including escrows, as well as preservation costs and certain legal fees.

 

Q:  In which situations can the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program be used?

A:  The HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program will be used only to supplement other loss mitigation options offered by the servicer under investor requirements, or where, without HAF, the homeowner would not qualify for the loss mitigation option.

 

Q:  How much HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program assistance can each household receive?

A:  Qualified households will be eligible for up to $25,000, to be used only for the homeowner’s primary residence.

 

Q:  Which types of properties are eligible for the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program?

A:  Owner occupied homes in Montana, including:

  • Single-family (attached or detached);
  • Condominiums;
  • One- to four-unit properties where the homeowner is living in one of the units as a primary residence;
  • Manufactured homes permanently affixed to and taxed as real property;
  • Mobile homes not permanently affixed to real property;
  • Properties owned by a “natural person” (not LLP, LLC, etc.); and
  • Those where ownership has been transferred to a non-incorporated, living trust.

 

Q:  To whom will the HAF Mortgage Reinstatement Program funds be paid?

A:  Funds will be paid, as applicable, to the mortgage servicer or other third-party payee authorized by the servicer, or other third party authorized to collect eligible charges in accordance with reinstatement instructions received from the payee.

 

Q:  How do I apply for the Lien Prevention Grant?

A:  Montana Housing will have an application portal on its website where borrowers will be able to apply and upload necessary documentation.

 

Q:  What are Lien Prevention Grants used for?  How much can a borrower receive?

A:  These funds are used to prevent tax foreclosure or remove/prevent creation of other liens that may cause homeowner displacement. The HAF Plan, pending Treasury approval, includes Lien Prevention Grants for up to $5,000.

 

Q:  What can be paid with Lien Prevention Grant funds?

A:  Delinquent property taxes to prevent foreclosure, homeowner association and condo fees, mobile home loans and insurance, and taxes.  All are conditioned upon costs jeopardizing homeownership if left unpaid.

 

Q:  What kind of properties qualify for Lien Prevention Grants?

A: Owner occupied homes in Montana, including:

  • Single-family (attached or detached);
  • Condominiums;
  • One- to four-unit properties where the homeowner lives in one of the units as a primary residence;
  • Manufactured homes permanently affixed to and taxed as real property;
  • Mobile homes not permanently affixed to real property;
  • Properties must be owned by a “natural person” (not LLP, LLC, etc.); and
  • Those where ownership has been transferred to a non-incorporated, living trust.

 

Q:  To whom will the Lien Prevention Grant funds be paid?

A:  Funds will be paid, as applicable, to the third party to which they are due.

 

Q:  Which utilities are covered?  How much can be provided?

A:  Funds are to be used to resolve delinquent payments for utility services dating back to April 2020, and not more than three months of future utility payments.  Each qualifying primary resident is eligible for up to $300 per month. Utilities will include electricity and home energy costs (gas, propane, wood).

 

Q:  Which households will qualify for utility payment assistance?

A:  Households qualifying for the Mortgage Reinstatement Program or the Lien Prevention Grant can also qualify for the Utility Payment Assistance Program.  The household must be at least one installment payment in arrears on at least one of the following:  Utilities (like electric, gas, or other home energy) when assistance from other utility assistance programs is not available and, without HAF assistance, services will be lost.

 

Q:  How do I apply for utility payment assistance?

A:  Montana Housing will have an application portal on its website where borrowers will be able to apply and upload necessary documentation.

 

Q:  To whom will the utility assistance funds be paid?

A:  Funds will be paid directly to the utility provider, or other applicable third-party authorized to collect eligible charges.

 

Q:  How much assistance can be provided for internet/broadband payment assistance?

A:  Each qualifying household will be eligible for up to $50/month.  Assistance can be provided for past due internet/broadband service dating back to April 2020 and not more than three months of future utility payments if the homeowner can’t make payments and funds aren’t available from other assistance programs. 

 

Q:  How do I apply for internet/broadband payment assistance?

A:  Montana Housing will have an application portal on its website where borrowers will be able to apply and upload necessary documentation.

 

Q:  Which households qualify for internet/broadband payment assistance? 

A:  Households qualifying for the Mortgage Reinstatement Program or the Lien Prevention Grant can also qualify for internet/broadband payment assistance.  Homeowners must be at least one installment payment in arrears on their internet/broadband service with no other assistance from other internet/broadband programs available.  Applicants must provide statement or notice of delinquent internet/broadband payments.

 

Q:  To whom will the internet/broadband assistance funds be paid?

A:  Funds will be paid directly to the applicant.