Hochul opens $539M homeowner assistance fund

Applications for up to $50K aid per household accepted beginning Jan. 3

Gov. Kathy Hochul (Getty, iStock)
Gov. Kathy Hochul (Getty, iStock)

New York homeowners facing foreclosure or displacement will soon be able to file for aid from a federal government program.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced the opening of the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund. The program will soon begin distributing $539 million in aid to low- and moderate-income homeowners.

The Division of Housing and Community Renewal will start accepting applications for aid on Jan. 3, Hochul announced. Sustainable Neighborhoods is managing the initiative.

“This program, created through the American Rescue Plan, will help New York families stay in their homes,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-Manhattan, who was with Hochul during Monday’s announcement, said in a statement.

New York is the first state to receive U.S. Treasury approval for Homeowner Assistance Fund aid. The $539 million earmarked for New York is part of a $10 billion federal program created by American Rescue Plan.

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Homeowners at least 30 days behind on monthly housing payments, including mortgages, property taxes and water and sewer bills, are eligible as long as their household income is 100 percent or less of the area median income. Eligibility extends to co-op and condo owners behind on maintenance fees.

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Applicants can receive up to $50,000 in aid, which will come in the form of a five-year, no-interest forgivable loan.

While the funds will help, they won’t come close to solving the massive delinquencies racked up by homeowners. The funding will cover about 9 percent of New Yorkers’ overdue payments; homeowners have about $5.85 billion in mortgage arrears since the pandemic began.

Hochul last month announced $25 million will go toward legal aid for tenants facing eviction. The decision came shortly after New York pulled the plug on its emergency rental assistance portal after earmarking virtually all of the $2.4 billion made available to the state. Hochul has requested another $996 million from the Treasury Department.

The struggle to expand available aid will come to a head on Jan. 15, when New York’s state eviction moratorium is set to expire.