American Rescue Plan: Housing

Overview

The American Rescue Plan provides $404 million in new rent and utility assistance for renters, as well as millions in mortgage assistance for homeowners in Washington state. Details are below.

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In addition to the American Rescue Plan, you may be eligible for ongoing relief provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Families First”), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (COVID relief law).

ASSISTANCE FOR RENTERS
The American Rescue Plan provides Washington state with $404 million in dedicated rent and utility assistance funding through the Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This funding is in addition to the $507 million Washington state received in the December COVID relief law, and the $100 million in Emergency Solutions Grants for Washington state approved through the CARES Act, which provided a critical lifeline for people and families experiencing or facing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who is Eligible?

  • Renter households with incomes no more than 80 percent of area median income (AMI) who meet the following conditions:
  • One or more individual in the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to or during the coronavirus outbreak; and
  • One or more individual in the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability which includes:
         - A past due utility, home energy, or rent notice or an eviction notice;
         - Unsafe or unhealthy living conditions; or
         - Any other evidence of such risk as determined by the State or county grantee.
         - Households with incomes of no more than 50 percent of AMI will receive priority.

Eligible Assistance
Assistance can be used to pay for:

  • Future rent and rental arrears;
  • Future utilities and home energy costs and delinquent payments; or
  • Other expenses related to housing.

Assistance will be paid directly to the landlord or utility company unless the landlord refuses to accept the funds, in which case the assistance can be paid to the renter. Landlords and owners may apply on behalf of tenants meeting the eligibility requirements, so long as the tenant cosigns the application, the landlord provides documentation to the tenant, and the payments are used to satisfy the tenant’s rental obligation to the owner.

How to Apply?
Funds will be administered through the state and counties and information on how to apply will be available soon.

ASSISTANCE FOR HOMEOWNERS
The American Rescue Plan also included Homeowner Assistance Fund funding for families in Washington state who are behind on their mortgages or already in foreclosure as a result of the pandemic. Funds can be used to provide homeowners with assistance to cover mortgage payments, property taxes, utility payments, or other resources to help them stay in their homes.

Who is Eligible?
The program is intended to serve homeowners who have fallen behind or at risk of falling behind on their mortgage, property tax, or utility payments due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although specific eligibility criteria will be determined by the state, at least 60 percent of the funds must go to households at or below 100 percent of area median income. You can find area median income for your community here.

How to Apply
Funds will be administered through the state and information on how to apply will be available soon.

FORECLOSURE MORATORIUM AND EXPANDED FORBEARANCE
On February 16, 2021, the White House announced that the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture are implementing a coordinated extension and expansion of forbearance and foreclosure relief programs which would:

  • Extend the foreclosure moratorium for homeowners through June 30, 2021;
  • Extend the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window until June 30, 2021 for borrowers who wish to request forbearance;
  • Provide up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance, in three-month increments, for borrowers who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.

On February 25, 2021, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are extending the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned evictions until June 30, 2021. The FHFA also announced that borrowers with a mortgage backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be eligible for an additional forbearance extension of up to three months. Eligibility for the extension is limited to borrowers who are on a COVID-19 forbearance plan as of February 28, 2021, and other limits may apply. In addition, Further, COVID-19 Payment Deferral for borrowers with an Enterprise-backed mortgage can now cover up to 18 months of missed payments. COVID-19 Payment Deferral allows borrowers to repay their missed payments at the time the home is sold, refinanced, or at mortgage maturity.

In addition to the COVID relief laws, Congress previously provided relief to homeowners in the CARES Act that remains in effect.