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More housing assistance for people in forbearance on its way

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 5:50 PM MST
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Help is on the way for some Arizonans who are struggling to pay rent or mortgages.

“If you are a home buyer, and you’re going into the market today, sadly you’re competing with investors who are willing to pay 20-30% more than list price,” said Tom Simplot, director of Arizona Department of Housing.

The situation has also unfortunately put many people in a place where they cannot pay their mortgage after losing jobs, being impacted by COVID-19 or recently losing the extra federal unemployment dollars.

“These people are going to be 18 months behind, most of them,” said Araceli Gonzalez, HUD housing counselor.

Gonzalez helps people stay in their homes, but more are needing her help these days. Now, funding from the American Rescue Plan, coming in the shape of a new program called the Homeowner Assistance Fund is here to help.

“This program will consist in bringing them current, pay their utilities, and we have a surprise, they’re even going to pay their internet bill,” said Gonzalez.

Arizona finally received the eligibility requirements for homeowners. Those who can apply need to have an income of 150% of the area median income, have been impacted by COVID back to January 2020, and be applying for help on their primary residence.

“There are millions of homeowners in Arizona that need assistance,” said Debbie Chandler, Executive director ARC. “We’re encouraging people, and the state’s encouraging us, to get people to apply for the eligibility now, and get in line because there’s going to be a huge waterfall as the forbearance plans fall off.”

Eviction moratoriums end in October for renters and many lenders are ending their forbearance programs come the end of September. Experts said this will lead to millions of people across the nation all seeking help at the same time. They said now is the time to get started on applications.

“We have an opportunity here to make a difference with the new federal monies coming into the state,” said Simplot.

ARC says these funds will likely be available come October first, but again are urging people to start the process because it could take a month of two to get help. Visit their website or the Arizona Department of Housing’s website for more information.

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