Raleigh, North Carolina – A federally funded program to help people struggling to pay their mortgages during the pandemic is still in the starting blocks, but it could open soon.
The U.S. Treasury Department said it opened an online portal on Friday allowing states expected to distribute nearly $ 10 billion across the country to submit plans for the project. Congress approved the funding in March as part of the $ 1.9 trillion US bailout, but it took time for the government to draft more detailed rules on how the money will flow to homeowners.
With the latest guidelines coming this week and the portal opening, it will be up to states to submit those plans, the Treasury Department said. The agency will need to approve the plans before states can make payments, and a spokeswoman could not provide a timeline beyond “quickly” on Friday.
She said state programs received 10% of their allocations in April to get things going.
A North Carolina official confirmed that the Treasury had reached out to say the portal was open and a plan would be submitted.
The change was still fresh. From Friday at 5 p.m. the Treasury Department web page for the Homeowners Assistance Fund program did not indicate that the portal was open.
“The Treasury will soon provide a portal through which HAF participants can submit their plans,” the site said in bold. “The deadline for states and territories to submit HAF plans or notify the Treasury when their HAF plan will be submitted will be 14 days from when the portal becomes available. “
The Treasury spokeswoman said this would be updated.
The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency will oversee the program in that state. On Thursday, a spokeswoman told WRAL News the agency is awaiting the portal and no opening date has been announced.
“We are using this time to find a supplier to manage the program, build the necessary infrastructure, educate potential local partners, and develop a marketing and outreach plan so we can alert distressed homeowners across the state as soon as possible. the opening of our application portal, ”spokeswoman Madison Lewis said in an email.
North Carolina’s portion totals about $ 273 million, and once it starts to sink, 60 percent will be reserved for people earning the median income or less for their area. The rest will go to people earning up to 150% of this median income
State and local governments have a separate program to help tenants, and officials say they have struggled to get the word out to attract enough candidates, even as advocates fear an eviction crisis once the current federal moratorium on evictions ends.
Lewis said that until the program opens for applications, struggling homeowners should contact the State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project, which offers free advice and can work with repairers on behalf of homeowners.
The number to find an advisor in your area is 1-888-442-8188.
Some local governments may have smaller programs to help homeowners. A spokeswoman for Buncombe County, for example, said the county launched a program on Friday that offered homeowners one-time grants of $ 300 if they hit income thresholds.