A year after the federal government began allocating funds, Texas has launched a program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure because of COVID-19
The Texas Homeowner Assistance Fund, aimed at homeowners who have struggled to pay their mortgage, property taxes, home insurance and home-related fees because of economic hardships caused by the pandemic. The program allocates $842 million to aid homeowners avoid foreclosure .
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs oversees the program, funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury and established under the American Rescue Plan Act, which began taking applications on Wednesday.
Kristen Hoyt, Comal County tax assessor-collector, said the program is not managed by the county or tax office, but said she wanted to let “qualifying taxpayers to know options that are offered to them.”
“The Comal County Tax Office offers internal payout agreement options for those with delinquent property taxes, but I hope this will help those in need of further property tax relief,” she said. “It applies to those delinquent on property taxes and other home-related dues.”
For homeowners with delinquent taxes that qualify for this program, TDHCA will send the payment directly to the Comal County Tax Office, Hoyt said.
The fund provides assistance to eligible homeowners to help avoid mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures and help prevent the displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020.
It took Texas nearly a year to get the program off the ground — slower than it took many other states. President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill, last March — which set aside more than $10 billion intended to help homeowners stay in their homes.
Twenty-five states including California and New York got their programs up and running before Texas, according to the National Council of State Housing Agencies. Ten states, including Texas, have run pilot programs. To date, Texas has distributed about $5 million to more than 600 households to help homeowners make mortgage payments through two pilot programs, according to TDHCA.
Under the fund, homeowners have to prove they suffered financial hardship caused by the pandemic in order to qualify for assistance. The program will cover up to $40,000 in overdue mortgage payments — and as much as $25,000 for overdue payments on property taxes, property insurance and fees demanded by homeowners’ or condominium associations. The agency projects the program could assist between 55,000 and 70,000 households.
For guidance, visit home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/HAF-Guidance.pdf. The program also covers delinquent home insurance, mortgage payments, HOA fees and liens, and other fees. For a list of qualifications, visit www.texashomeownerassistance.com or call 1-833-651-3974.
The Texas Tribune contributed to this report