In early 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. This law created a Homeowner Assistance Fund, a federal program, to give $10 billion to the states to help households that are behind on their mortgages and other housing expenses due to COVID-19.
 
Eligible homeowners in Georgia who’ve experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic can get a piece of the approximately $354 million allocated to the state—up to $50,000 per household—from the Georgia Mortgage Assistance program. This program uses federal money to help homeowners make mortgage payments and pay other home-related costs.
 

Available Financial Help for Georgia Homeowners

The Georgia Mortgage Assistance program offers the following kinds of assistance to eligible homeowners.
 
  • You could be able to qualify for funds to reinstate your delinquent mortgage loan. You might also be eligible to get as many as three months of additional mortgage payments if you haven’t yet recovered financially from the pandemic.
  • You might also qualify for money to pay for a recast, mortgage modification, or another loss mitigation option if you’ve had a permanent loss of income due to the pandemic, plus an additional three months of mortgage payments.
  • You could possibly get money to pay overdue non-escrowed property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, condominium or homeowners’ association fees, and utility payments.
 
Facing Foreclosure in Georgia?
 
Even if a foreclosure has started, you might still have time to get assistance from the Georgia Mortgage Assistance program. However, you should know that applying for assistance won’t stop a foreclosure. You’ll need to notify the program administrator about the foreclosure and provide a copy of the document showing that a foreclosure sale has been scheduled for your home so your application can be fast-tracked.
 
Or you might have time to work out an alternative to foreclosure with your loan servicer. For instance, homeowners with a federally backed mortgage loan can get a COVID-19 forbearance. Even if your loan isn’t federally backed, your servicer might offer a forbearance or another form of relief, like a loan modification, if the COVID crisis has financially impacted you.
 
If you have questions about the foreclosure process in Georgia or want to learn about potential defenses to a foreclosure, consider talking to a foreclosure lawyer.
 

Eligibility Requirements for the Georgia Mortgage Assistance Program

To qualify for relief from this program, you must have suffered a financial hardship (a material reduction in income or an increase in living expenses) after January 21, 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic. But if your financial hardship was cured with another grant or form of assistance, you’re not eligible.
 
In addition, you have to meet some other guidelines:
 
  • The home must be located in Georgia.
  • You must be currently living in the home as your primary residence, and you must have been living in the home at the time of the hardship. (Second homes, investment properties, and vacant properties don’t qualify. Manufactured home loans, however, are eligible.)
  • The home has to be titled in the name of a natural person, not an LLC, trust, or business.
  • If you have a mortgage, it must have been a conforming loan at origination.
  • Your household income must be equal to or less than 100% of the area median income (AMI) for your county. Or your household income must be equal to or less than 150% of the county’s AMI if you (the homeowner), borrower, or spouse is considered a socially disadvantaged individual, such as those that have been the victim of racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias, or those with limited English proficiency, for example.
To find out if you’re potentially eligible, take this prescreening quiz.
 
 
Check for Updates
 
The program details and eligibility criteria described in this article are current as of the effective date shown below, but other conditions might apply. Homeowner assistance programs and requirements change often, and not all lenders and servicers participate. Be sure to check the official Georgia Mortgage Assistance website for the most recent information and eligibility requirements.
 

How to Apply for Assistance From the Georgia Mortgage Assistance Program

Go to the Georgia Mortgage Assistance website to apply for help from this program. You’ll have to provide some documentation with your application, like mortgage statements or statements for your other housing-related costs, proof of income (such as pay stubs and tax returns), and a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license). Click here to get a complete list of the documents you’ll need.
 

How Long Will the Georgia Mortgage Assistance Program Last?

The program will continue until the earlier of September 30, 2026, or when all of the funds allotted to the program have been exhausted. If you think you might qualify, it’s best to apply as soon as possible.
 

Avoid Homeowner Assistance Fund Scams

If you get an unsolicited offer by phone, in the U.S. mail, through email, or by text message offering mortgage relief or foreclosure rescue services, be wary. Scammers are increasingly targeting homeowners who’ve been affected by COVID-19. The Georgia Mortgage Assistance program is free. If anyone asks you to pay a fee to get housing counseling or to receive foreclosure prevention services from this program, it’s a scam. You can report instances of fraud here.
 

Learn More About the Georgia Mortgage Assistance Program

If you have questions or need help with your application, call 770-806-2100, 877-519-4443, email HAF@dca.ga.gov, or review the Georgia Mortgage Assistance program FAQs. Also, consider contacting a HUD-approved housing counselor who will assist you at no cost. To find a counselor near you, go to HUD’s website or call 800-569-4287.
 
Effective date: January 19, 2022
 
Written By Amy Loftsgordon, Attorney  |  Source: Nolo
 
 
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