By Brent Addleman | The Center Square
A new program designed to keep Vermont homeowners in their homes is now open, Gov. Phil Scott said.
The governor, in conjunction with the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, announced the Homeowner Assistance Program in a news release that will provide $50 million in funding to residents facing pandemic hardships.
The program, according to the release, is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act and will award grants up to $30,000 to cover overdue mortgage payments, utility bills, property taxes, and property association charges. The Vermont Housing Finance Agency will run the program.
“As we move forward in our recovery, my Administration is making housing a top priority,” Scott said in the release. “In addition to supporting those experiencing homelessness and building new housing stock, we must also work to keep Vermonters in their homes, to stabilize neighborhoods and preserve the health of our communities. This program offers another tool to help accomplish this.”
The program was supported by Vermont state Sen. Patrick Leahy, Congressman Peter Welch, and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“As foreclosure moratoriums and forbearance agreements end, many Vermonters are facing an uncertain future,” the federal legislators said in a joint statement. “These funds will help homeowners harmed by the pandemic get caught up on their bills and move forward.”
The state’s Mortgage Assistance Program, which was instituted early in the pandemic, distributed $10 million in mortgage and property tax assistance to nearly 900 households. The new program will allow the organization to offer criteria that will help homeowners without mortgages or have a reverse mortgage. The program will also cover homeowner and condominium association fees, according to the release.
Applicants’ eligibility will be assessed through a series of questions, including if they are applying for expenses related to a primary home and the income level and number of residents in the home.
According to the release, the program is open to state residents to cover expenses for those who meet income limits, and are behind on bills due to a financial hardship created by the pandemic after Jan. 21, 2020.
Online applications and associated materials are available at vermonthap.vhfa.org.