(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) launched a new $50 million homeownership program to provide financial assistance to residents struggling to make housing related payments. Through the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), beginning on June 22, 2022 , eligible homeowners can go to haf.dc.gov to apply for grant funding to cover mortgage payments and other property or housing expenses, including utilities, insurance, internet assistance and housing association fees, among other benefits. The HAF program adds to the robust toolkit of resources available in the District of Columbia to support obtaining and maintaining homeownership, particularly for low- to moderate-income residents. Frontdoor.dc.gov, a DC government site launched in 2021, provides a searchable inventory of these programs.
“With this program, we’re adding another resource to our homeownership toolkit,” said Mayor Bowser. “Homeownership is a critical tool for helping residents stay and build wealth in DC. That’s why we’re increasing our down payment assistance program, why we launched the Black Homeownership Strike Force, why we have the Safe at Home program, and, now, why we are launching this Homeowner Assistance Fund. All of these programs together is how we give more Washingtonians a fair shot.”
Residents are eligible for the HAF program if they:
- live in a home that they own in the District;
- have fallen behind on one or more of the eligible program expenses for that home, including: mortgage payments, housing association fees and charges, property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, utility payments, internet/broadband payments;
- were impacted by COVID-19; and
- make less than 100% of the Median Family Income (MFI) or $142,300 for a family of four.
Households that identify as “Socially Disadvantaged” may be eligible for mortgage reinstatement assistance with annual income up to 150% of MFI. “Socially Disadvantaged” individuals belong to a group whose ability to purchase or own a home has been impaired due to diminished access to credit on reasonable terms as compared to others in comparable economic circumstances. The impairment stems from circumstances beyond their control.
“Mayor Bowser has made important strides towards helping Washingtonians reach their goals of homeownership,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “But there are current homeowners who are still struggling through financial hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The HAF program will provide some much-needed breathing room to those vulnerable homeowners in the District looking for the best path to staying in their homes. We strongly encourage those eligible to take advantage of these programs as it will not only benefit them, but also promote economic recovery throughout the city.”
Funding for the HAF program is made available by the United States Treasury from the American Rescue Plan. Treasury made initial payments from the HAF available to the District in an amount equal to 10% of the total amount allocated to DC (or $5 million). Treasury encouraged HAF participants to use these initial payments to create or fund pilot programs to serve targeted populations and to focus on programs that are most likely to deliver resources most quickly to targeted populations, such as mortgage reinstatement programs.
As a result, the launch of the full HAF program follows a successful pilot program in Wards 7 and 8 that began in October 2021. The pilot targeted condominium homeowners who purchased their home using down payment and/or closing cost assistance from DHCD and were behind on their mortgage or other property-related payments. Nearly $500,000 of assistance has been distributed for mortgage, condominium fees, and property taxes with additional assistance in the process of being distributed. Of the 110 approved applicants, 79% identified as Black, all were at or below 100% MFI, and one-third identified as socially disadvantaged.
“We encourage District homeowners in need to begin exploring our materials and collecting the necessary paperwork in anticipation of the program opening next week,” said DHCD Interim Director Drew Hubbard. “The pilot demonstrated the success of our program design and we’re now ready to bring these benefits to all Washingtonians as quickly as possible.”
The District’s foreclosure moratorium on residential mortgages expires on June 30, 2022. When the moratorium ends, foreclosure proceedings may resume unless homeowners have a financial assistance application pending approval, pending payment, or under appeal by the HAF program. If homeowners are under review for HAF, the moratorium is extended until September 30, 2022. Lenders cannot foreclose on homeowners until after June 30 if the property is occupied. Mortgage payments are still due unless homeowners have entered into loss mitigation agreements with their lenders.
More information, including eligibility requirements, can be found at haf.dc.gov. Interested applicants may also call (202) 540-7407 Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm if they have questions or want to connect with a housing counselor for a virtual or in-person appointment.