UPDATE 11:26 a.m.: Constituent’s real name is not Lisa Hampton, per Scott’s office, which said some homeowners are concerned about making their financial situations public. 

UPDATE 11:39 a.m.: ADDS specifics of various assistance programs for homeowners

UPDATE 11:46 a.m.: ADDS “socially-disadvantaged” definition

UPDATE: 11:55 a.m.: ADDS metro Atlanta 2021 AMI of $86,200

by Robin Kemp

Congressman Davis Scott announced Wednesday $354 million in relief for homeowners who are behind on their mortgages, as well as assistance for utility payments.

Eligible homeowners can get up to $50,000 in mortgage assistance, payable directly to the lender, through one or more of the following programs:

  • Mortgage Reinstatement: catches up delinquent payments or payments in forbearance. An additional lum sump payment of three months’ worth of mortgage payments (to the lender or servicer) may be available for homeowners “who have not recovered from the pandemic hardship.”
  • Principal Curtailment: If a homeowner has suffered a permanent loss of income–for example, if the homeowner is 100% disabled or if their spouse died–this program allows them to recast the mortgage, modify the loan, or use “other loss mitigation options.” As with mortgage reinstatement, a three-month lump sum payment to the lender or servicer creates a bit of a cushion for those who still have not recovered from the pandemic hardship.
  • Housing Related Expenses: This program helps homeowners catch up on non-escrowed property taxes, non-escrowed homeowner’s insurance, condo or HOA fees, and utility payments “in conjunction with mortgage assistance.”

The aid is for homeowners’ primary residence and aimed at those with a first mortgage only. In some instances, a second mortgage may be considered. However, the home has to be in a natural person’s name (not a trust or corporation) and cannot be a second h0me or an investment property. If you live in a manufactured home, you can apply, too.

The COVID-19 hardship can be either loss of income or a significant increase in expenses due to COVID-19. You’ll need to document the hardship. You’ll also need to submit your income tax forms and documentation of income for the past 30 days from all sources, for all homeowners, borrowers, and spouse living in the home.

For more specifics on how to apply and the paperwork you’ll need, visit the FAQ on the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ mortgage relief website at georgiamortgageassistance.ga.gov/faq.

About 10 milli0n people in the United States have fallen behind on their mortgages as a result of COVID-19.

The aid is part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which offers aid to people undergoing hardships since January 21, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 60% of the funding is for homeowners who make less than or equal to the Area Median Income (AMI). In 2021, the metro Atlanta AMI was $86,200.

The other 40% goes to socially-disadvantaged homeowners making equal to or less than 150% AMI.

“Socially-disadvantaged people” are defined as “(T)hose 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, based on disparities in homeownership rates in the state as documented by the US Census. Indicators of impairment may include being a (1) member of a group that has been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society; (2) resident of a majority-minority Census tract; (3) individual with limited English proficiency; (4) resident of a U.S. territory, Indian reservation, or Hawaiian Home Land; or (5) individual who lives in a persistent-poverty county (any county that has had 20% or more of its population living in poverty over the past 30 years as measured by the three most recent decennial censuses.)”

Scott said he was prompted to write HR 1710 after a constituent, Lisa H., contacted his office.

He said Lisa H. “epitomizes” what so many Georgians are going through.

“She had a job. She was an entrepreneur doing great work,” Scott said. But when COVID-19 hit, “she lost her job. She lost her entrepreneurship. She continued to do the best she could.” When her mortgage payment was discontinued, Scott said, Lisa H. called his office for help.

To apply for help with your mortgage, visit georgiamortgageassistance.ga.gov.

If you need help with the application or know of someone who needs help but don’t have Internet access, call the Georgia Department of Community Affairs at (770) 806-2100.

 

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