How Pennsylvania Homeowners Can Apply for Mortgage and Utility Assistance

Pennsylvania has received $350 million from the federal government to help homeowners who defaulted on their mortgages during the pandemic.

However, getting funds has been slow. As reported by Spotlight PAThe aid program is overwhelmed with demand and struggles to obtain important information from mortgage companies, leaving thousands of people in limbo.

If you own a home in Pennsylvania and need help offsetting mortgage payments or other housing costs, here’s a basic guide to what you need to know about applying for assistance.

What is available?

The Pennsylvania Homeowners Assistance Fund can help with late mortgage payments, utility bills, and property taxes, as well as other costs such as home insurance or homeowners association fees. Some applicants also qualify for assistance with upcoming mortgage payments.

The maximum amount of assistance a person can receive is $50,000. Within that, there are also limits to how much you can get in utility assistance ($10,000), property tax assistance ($14,000), insurance premiums ($3,000), and home or condo owner fees ($5,000).

As of February 1, 2022, you can only receive each type of assistance once — so if you receive mortgage debt financing, for example, and then fall behind again, you won’t be eligible for another round of assistance for that type of help.

Payments from the program go directly to your mortgage or utility company.

You can find more detailed information on the program website.

Who qualifies?

You must be a homeowner in Pennsylvania that has experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, starting January 21, 2020.

To qualify for help with your debt, you must be at least one month behind on your bills.

To receive help with ongoing mortgage payments, you must be on top of your mortgage and your payments must occupy at least 30% of your monthly income.

The property associated with your application must be your primary residence, and the amount you borrowed for your mortgage must be less than a A certain extentdepending on the year you took out the loan and the location of your home.

You also need to meet income requirementswhich varies based on your province or metro area.

How long will it take?

Orders are not first come, first served. Homeowners are given priority based on their income, demographics, and whether they are at risk of foreclosure, having their utilities closed, or selling their homes because they are behind on property taxes.

Wait times also depend on how quickly the mortgage company responds to the program’s requests for information and whether that process hits any snags.

Be prepared to wait at least several months.

What if I need help with my mortgage and other housing costs?

In these cases, the program’s policy is not to work on other applications until you’ve been granted mortgage assistance, which could leave utility bills or property taxes hanging for months.

However, if you are at risk of closing your utilities, or selling your property to pay off taxes owed, you can sign a form agreeing to get help with those bills first.

What if I’ve already been waiting for months?

Unfortunately, long waiting times are not unusual. The program’s internal goal when it launched last February was to get homeowners help within 60 days. But the level of demand and the difficulty of coordinating with mortgage companies have pushed the average waiting period to more than four months, as of mid-December 2022.

If you are waiting and need updates, you can try contacting your caseworker directly or making an appointment through the program’s call center. Spotlight PA found that some people had more success accessing the program on Facebook Messenger, via Facebook Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency page.

Can I be foreclosed on foreclosure while I wait?

In most cases, mortgage companies are required to put foreclosure proceedings on hold for at least 60 days once someone has applied to the program. Program officials told Spotlight PA that many companies were willing to wait longer. If you receive a pre-foreclosure notice—sometimes called a Law 91 or Law 6 notice, depending on the type of loan you have—send it to the program immediately.

Can the utilities be turned off while I wait?

Yes, and Spotlight PA found that it did in some cases, although program officials try to avoid it. There is no legal requirement that utilities be temporarily shut down once someone applies. The program advises applicants who have received warning notices about closure to send them to caseworkers as soon as possible.

Read the full Spotlight PA investigation, “Waiting Game,” here. here.

90.5 WESA partners with Spotlight PA, a reader-funded collaborative newsroom that produces impeachment journalism for all of Pennsylvania. more in

Leave a Comment