BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that Louisiana’s Office of Community Development published a draft plan for public comment prior to submitting to the U.S. Treasury to establish the Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Fund program. The financial relief program will provide aid to help low- to moderate-income families financially impacted by COVID-19 who are behind on their mortgages, utility bills and other housing costs.
The program is funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and Louisiana is set to receive $146.7 million but must first submit a spending plan for federal approval. The plan describes the identified needs of homeowners in Louisiana, how the program will be designed, the eligibility criteria and benefits to be provided. Read the draft plan at www.LACovidHousing.com.
“More than 65 percent of Louisianans own their homes, and too many are struggling to make monthly mortgage payments during a period of historic job losses and financial stress,” said Gov. Edwards. “This assistance cannot come fast enough, and I’m proud of the fact that we have submitted our plan for comment and review well in advance of the July 31, 2021 Treasury deadline.”
As Louisiana awaits approval of the plan and final guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department to launch the program, OCD is actively seeking input from individuals and groups that work with homeowners, including mortgage lenders and servicers, potential referring agencies and organizations representing socially disadvantaged homeowners. The official comment period will close on July 20, 2021, and public input will help inform the program’s final structure and implementation. The public may submit written comments regarding the state’s HAF Plan to OCD@la.gov.
A moratorium on foreclosures remains in place until July 31, 2021, for federally-backed mortgages—those backed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Homeowners who are struggling financially are encouraged to take steps now that can protect them from foreclosure beyond the moratorium, including entering into forbearance with their lenders to temporarily pause or reduce mortgage payments. For homeowners with loans backed by HUD, VA or USDA, the deadline for requesting forbearance is September 30, 2021. Homeowners who have not already entered into forbearance and are struggling to make mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic should explore forbearance options as soon as possible to prevent foreclosure. Homeowners with federally-backed mortgages who have already entered into forbearance may also be eligible for a forbearance extension and are encouraged to contact their lender. Visit the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau website at www.ConsumerFinance.gov/coronavirus/mortgage-and-housing-assistance for more information on the moratorium extension and preventing foreclosure.