The Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF) — a program designed to offer financial help to homeowners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — has kept more than 300,000 homeowners in their homes by curing defaults and keeping them out of foreclosure, according to data released this week by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“As of March 31, HAF programs made roughly $3.7 billion in payments to more than 318,000 homeowners at risk of foreclosure,” the Treasury Department said in an announcement. “In the first quarter of 2023 alone, HAF programs distributed $1.2 billion in assistance to households – a 50% increase over the fourth quarter of 2022 – demonstrating the program is continuing to scale rapidly as designed.”
The data also shows that 14 states and two U.S. territories have expended over 50% of their HAF funds, excluding administrative expenses. In addition, the funding has reached a greater number of economically vulnerable people than it did prior to the federal mortgage relief efforts.
“As of March 2023, 49% of HAF assistance was delivered to very low-income homeowners, defined as homeowners earning less than 50% of the area median income,” the Treasury said. “Demographically, 35% of homeowners assisted self-identified as Black, 23% self-identified as Hispanic/Latino, and 59% self-identified as female.”
The Treasury Department is committed to ensuring that the remainder of the funds will be distributed, according to Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury.
“The Homeowner Assistance Fund has helped keep hundreds of thousands of families in their homes,” Adeyemo said. “As state programs assess their remaining HAF funds, the Treasury Department will continue working with recipients to ensure these funds are swiftly delivered to homeowners most in need.”
Passed as part of the American Rescue Plan Act in early 2021, the HAF program is designed to help homeowners who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 pay their mortgage or other home expenses. A $10 billion allocation was made for the program, but mortgage servicers previously stated that spreading awareness about the program has been a challenge.
The program is also available for reverse mortgage borrowers. A requirement of a government-sponsored Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is that the homeowner keep their home in good repair while paying any applicable property taxes, homeowners insurance and homeowners association (HOA) fees.
Reverse mortgage borrowers who may have fallen behind on such payments are eligible to receive HAF funds to help cover the expenses and keep them out of foreclosure.