Have you been negatively impacted by the coronavirus?
COVID-19 has upended many people’s lives. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment, businesses have gone under, and many people have struggled to pay their rent. Some housing complexes have been lenient on responsibilities such as rent payment, but if you find that it still isn’t enough, rest assured you aren’t alone.
You aren’t without options, either. In the United States, both the government and private lenders realize that safe and affordable housing is necessary for the well-being of the people. Because of this, they’ve set up programs to help people keep their homes.
But how do you get on a housing assistance program during COVID-19? We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide below.
Keep reading to learn more!
Know Your Rights
First, before we get into receiving housing assistance, we should make sure you know your current rights.
COVID-19 was a tumultuous year, filled with extraordinary circumstances that caused the government to issue 2 eviction moratoriums. The first came as part of the CARES Act, which also contained up to $1,200 in stimulus checks for lower to middle income families.
It was signed into law in March and disallowed landlords in federally-backed housing from evicting people who can’t pay rent until July. The moratorium expired. Yet, in December, Congress passed a bill extending until January 31, 2021. If Donald Trump signs this into law, landlords managing federally-backed properties won’t be able to evict residents until the end of January.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t excuse you of the responsibility of paying rent. It simply means that your landlord won’t be able to evict you for a certain period of time, giving you longer to find a way to pay the rent.
Should this bill become passed and your landlord attempts to evict you from federal housing, consult a free legal service about your rights. If you’re in federally-subsidized housing, remind the landlord of the eviction ban.
Government Housing Assistance
But what if you aren’t exempt from eviction? What if you still find yourself facing eviction?
Facing eviction feels scary. But you aren’t without help. If you need help paying your rent and are worried about being evicted, there are government agencies set up to help you. Emergency government funds have been set aside to help people pay their rent.
But how do you go about getting this help?
These housing programs differ by state, so you might need to consult your local state providers for exact instructions. Most funding programs will require you to fill out an application.
Unfortunately, this application does not guarantee that you will receive assistance since funds for housing are limited. Yet, if you manage to secure payment help, you’ll be able to avoid or stave off eviction.
Turning to Fannie Mae
But what if you have a mortgage instead of rent? Have you ever heard of Fannie Mae?
At first glance, this seems like the name of a person. In actuality, though, it’s a common moniker for the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA).
If you have a mortgage, you may want to contact Fannie Mae. It was founded in the 1930s in order to bolster the mortgage market. It helps people get lower mortgage loans. Fannie Mae doesn’t provide loans, but they buy a lot of them. If you don’t know whether or not Fannie Mae owns your loan, use this service to look it up.
If you’ve been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and have trouble paying your Fannie Mae-owned loan, you can work with the FNMA to make your loan payments easier. This may involve a loan modification or a forbearance loan plan. Both of these plans can serve as great emergency housing assistance when your finances have been negatively influenced by COVID-19.
If you find yourself needing to move because of your financial situation, you may be wondering where else you can go. After all, most rent costs at least several hundred dollars, and if you have a family, it likely costs you thousands. And that’s not even accounting for bills and utilities.
Fortunately, even if you don’t live in government-subsidized housing, you can apply for a housing voucher through usa.gov. If you get a housing voucher, you’ll be able to choose where you live, but the government will pay your landlord the amount listed on the voucher. You pay the difference.
To qualify for this benefit, you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen. In addition, you must be either a senior citizen, a family, or a person with a disability. You must also meet the income requirements.
The place you choose to rent must also meet health and public safety standards.
To apply, reach out to your local public housing agency and fill out an application. You will need to provide documents such as birth certificates, tax returns, and photo identification, so make sure to have these on hand.
If you’re not already in government-subsidized housing but find yourself in need of housing assistance, you may want to consider moving into public housing.
Like housing vouchers, you need to be a citizen or eligible non-citizen who is also a family unit, a person with a disability, or a senior citizen, and you need to meet the income requirements. You also need to apply for it.
When you live in public housing, you pay rent based on your annual gross income. This makes it much more affordable for many people.
Ready to Get Housing Assistance?
If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19, you might be able to get on housing assistance.
Whether you need help not getting evicted, modifying your loan, or getting into cheaper housing, there are emergency housing assistance programs for which you can apply. Make sure you research the particular programs available in your area and consider applying for more than one type of relief, if needed.
Do you need COVID housing assistance? Check out our resources today!