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Oregon agency launches mortgage relief program for COVID-19-hit homeowners

Bend homes 2020-11
KTVZ file

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative said Thursday it has launched a mortgage relief program to help homeowners at risk of losing their homes due to COVID-related financial hardship.

The COVID-19 Mortgage Relief program provides assistance to homeowners who have experienced a financial hardship to help them avoid foreclosure. The program provides a one-time payment directly to mortgage servicers to bring delinquent first-lien mortgage accounts current.

OHSI is a program administered by Oregon Housing and Community Services, on behalf of the Oregon Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation, and funded through U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, established during the Great Recession.

OHCS, with the support of Senators Wyden and Merkley, successfully advocated to extend these funds to provide relief to Oregonians impacted by COVID-19.

“Oregon residents are facing multiple crises at once,” said Emese Perfecto, director of the OHCS Homeownership Division.  “We know that easing the burden of past due mortgage payments is a critical way we can keep families stable while they endure these challenges. This program provides hope to many struggling homeowners.”

As of September, 165,000 people were unemployed in Oregon, double the number of a year ago. While the unemployment rate has improved slightly since the beginning of the pandemic, many Oregonians are still struggling.

Since 2011, OHSI has helped more than 16,000 families keep their homes. The program has invested more than $300 million in direct assistance to Oregonians.

“Being at risk of losing your home can be extremely stressful. We want homeowners to know that they are not alone,” Perfecto said.  “Our trained partners are here to advise you and answer any questions you have.”

The program eligibility criteria include:

  • Became past due on mortgage payments after Jan. 1, 2020
  • Experienced a financial hardship such as job loss, reduced income, high medical costs, disability, death in the family, or divorce.
  • Mortgage payment is no more than 45 percent of household monthly income

More eligibility requirements and a FAQ, as well as the application portal, are available on the OHSI website. Housing counseling partners are also available to assist homeowners with the application process.

The $20 million program is funded through the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund. The assistance is offered through a no-interest, forgivable, five-year loan that requires no payment from the recipients so long as they don’t sell or refinance their home for cash for at least five years. Because funds are limited, homeowners in need are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Along with these resources, Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-37 extended the foreclosure protections established by House Bill 4204 (2020 1st special session). Oregon homeowners in need should contact their lender or a Homeownership Center for relief options.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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