SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) was able to help thousands of homeowners with their mortgage payments last spring. Now, the Pritzker administration is reopening the mortgage assistance program to help more people who struggled to make payments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
IHDA is making $115 million available to eligible homeowners starting Nov. 1. People can receive up to $30,000 from the Homeowner Assistance Fund, which is paid directly to a mortgage service or lender.
“No Illinoisan should have to choose between paying their mortgage and putting food on the table,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “That’s why we established the Illinois Homeowner Assistance Fund to provide some much-needed relief to our residents who struggled throughout the pandemic.”
IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust said Thursday that homeowners can use the funds to pay past-due housing payments or up to three months of future mortgage payments. Faust explained the relief funding is meant to be an injection to help people get back on track with their mortgages.
“When you’re under that kind of economic stress, when you’ve lost your job and your hours have been cut back so far that all of a sudden your whole household budget is out of whack, you can’t even pay your rent or mortgage. Your whole world turns upside down,” Faust said.
Faust said unemployment is very low right now and most people have jobs again which is very encouraging. Although, she noted that there are still many people struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
The Homeowner Assistance Fund is free and does not need to be repaid as the money came from the federal American Rescue Plan. Illinois received $386.9 million through the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus relief plan in March 2021.
Homeowners could be eligible for help if they experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic after January 21, 2020. Applicants must also currently own or occupy their home in Illinois, be at least 30 days late on monthly housing payments, and have a household income at or below 150% of the area median income.
IHDA requires potential applicants to demonstrate that they spoke with their mortgage provider about the delayed payments or sought counseling through a counseling organization approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“They are an important step in the process. Congress required that we know people worked with a mortgage servicer to try and get help and came to an understanding that you still need help,” Faust said. “Working with that housing agency can help provide proof of that. We need that proof to make your application eligible.”
Faust said people should apply quickly once the program reopens next month.
“There was a set amount that came from Congress and they will eventually run out,” Faust said. “But right now, we’re feeling pretty good about being able to help every homeowner in Illinois that’s in distress.”
People who received assistance during the previous round of mortgage relief can still apply for more help. Faust said some people have gotten jobs and are able to pay their current housing costs but they may still have several months they couldn’t pay their mortgage.
“People who need housing assistance deserve to be seen and supported,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “Illinois sees them, and we will keep working to ensure no one has to experience the fear and stress of losing their home.”
Homeowners are encouraged to attend information sessions hosted by IHDA and other housing partners. You can find more information about the program at illinoishousinghelp.org. People can also contact the IHDA hotline at 1-866-454-3571.
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