Federal Aid Still Available To Chattanooghans Struggling With Rent And Mortgage Payments During Pandemic

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Government aid is still available for those struggling to pay rent or mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, about 6,700 families in Tennessee are overdue on mortgages for 90 days or more, putting them at foreclosure risk. There are 447 people in Hamilton County, according to a spokesman for the county’s mayor’s office.

To help those saddled with the financial impact of COVID-19, HUD is extending its FHA insured mortgage abstinence program until the end of July.

In June, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that the moratorium on foreclosures secured by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be extended until July 31, 2021.

HUD, Veterans Affairs, and the USDA will continue to allow homeowners who did not take advantage of leniency prior to September 30, 2021, to exercise leniency in relation to COVID, while homeowners with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages who have COVID-related hardships will continue to be eligible for COVID abstinence.

Finally, HUD, VA and USDA will announce additional steps in July to offer borrowers options to reduce payments that will allow more homeowners to stay in their homes.

“Homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages at risk of losing their home to the pandemic should contact their mortgage provider as soon as possible to benefit from the FHA abstinence program,” HUD spokesman Joe Phillips told the Times Free Press last week.

The COVID-19 FHA mortgage waiver cuts or suspends monthly mortgage payments for an initial period of up to six months, Phillips said, and renewals may be possible.

The program does not cancel payments, but gives homeowners additional time to make payments.

Affected homeowners must contact their mortgage provider directly for assistance to inquire about the program, and can also seek free advice from a HUD-approved housing advisory agency.

Homeowners can call 800-569-4287 or search online at hud.gov/housingcounseling to find a HUD-approved agency.

The deadline for filing a COVID abstinence application is July 31st.

Rental assistance

Renters affected by the pandemic can apply for housing assistance through the City and the Tennessee Housing Authority.

According to Rachel Howard, director of the Office of Family Empowerment, Chattanooga continues to offer assistance to COVID-19 victims in Hamilton County.

Howard said Monday that the city could temporarily provide relief to those who make up 200% of the local poverty rate, which could show that they are financially affected by the pandemic.

Qualified residents may be eligible for rental assistance for up to 12 months through funding for coronavirus assistance provided by the federal government.

Howard said there is no set deadline for applying for funding under the CARES Act, which can be used by the city until September 2022.

The Office for Family Empowerment does not currently offer personal services, but can be contacted at 423-643-6434.

To apply for COVID-19 relief across the state, residents can call the Tennessee Housing Authority at 844-500-1112.

The call center is open from 8:00 to 21:00 Monday through Saturday.

People can also visit the department online at thda.org.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com

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