On Monday, January 24, 2022, Governor Scott announced a new grant program, the Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP), which will help Vermont homeowners facing pandemic hardships. The program will be managed through the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) and is now accepting applications. The program, funded by $50 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, will provide grants of up to $30,000 per household towards overdue mortgage payments, utility bills, property taxes, and property association charges. VHFA anticipates that the program will run for multiple years to help reduce the long-term risk of foreclosure and home loss due to the pandemic.
“This program is about supporting Vermonters. Through HAP we are keeping people in their homes, stabilizing neighborhoods, and preserving the health of our communities,” said Governor Phil Scott.
Passed as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act, this program was supported by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.). In a joint statement, the Vermont Delegation said: “As foreclosure moratoriums and forbearance agreements end, many Vermonters are facing an uncertain future. These funds will help homeowners harmed by the pandemic get caught up on their bills and move forward.”
VHFA was able to help Vermont homeowners earlier in the pandemic with its Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP). That program assisted nearly 900 households with a total of $10 million in mortgage and property tax assistance, awarded by the VT Legislature. New federal funding will allow HAP to offer expanded its criteria to cover homeowners who do not have a mortgage or who have a reverse mortgage, and it will also cover utility bills and homeowner and condominium association fees to help even more households facing financial challenges.
The Homeowner Assistance Program is available to any Vermont homeowner who meets the eligibility criteria and is not just for VHFA mortgage borrowers. The program is available to Vermont homeowners for expenses related to their primary home, who meet income limits, and who are behind on their bills due to a financial hardship associated with the coronavirus pandemic after January 21, 2020.
“Since the HAP funding is provided as a one-time-only grant, we highly encourage homeowners to talk with a local HUD-approved housing counselor prior to applying,” remarked Eric Hoffman, VHFA’s Manager of Business Development, who previously worked as a foreclosure intervention counselor. “Their free counseling services can help applicants make sure they are taking advantage of all the loss-mitigation tools that may be available to them.”
More information and application materials are available at vermonthap.vhfa.org. The website is available in several languages and includes information about how applicants can access additional translation and application assistance. A Homeowner Assistance Program information hotline is open 8 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday, at 833-221-4208.