PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island Housing has announced $2 million in available mortgage payment help funding through the federally-funded Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island program. The new program provides financial assistance to Rhode Island homeowners negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to make their mortgage payments. Borrowers must have experienced unemployment or underemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be eligible.
“During this public health emergency, housing is one of the best forms of personal protective equipment,” said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “Too many Rhode Islanders have already lost their jobs during this pandemic, and we can’t afford to have families lose their homes as well. This federal funding will help more families stay safe as they navigate the evolving challenges of COVID, and I will continue fighting for additional federal foreclosure prevention and eviction prevention resources. This is why I have introduced S. 3620, the Housing Assistance Fund, to provide $75 billion in additional federal resources help keep families in their homes.”
According to a release, Reed was instrumental in securing federal resources for Rhode Island through the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), which was established by the Federal government in February of 2010 to provide targeted aid to families in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. Rhode Island is one of 18 states and the District of Columbia that received money from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help homeowners avoid losing their homes to foreclosures. During the last economic recession, Rhode Island Housing was able to utilize the Hardest Hit program to help almost 6,000 families in all 39 cities and towns keep their homes.
“It is critical that we do everything that we can to keep Rhode Islanders in their homes during this period of economic uncertainty.” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “There’s no question that during this crisis, the hardest hit families have been those who can least afford it. The HHFRI program provides meaningful relief to those Rhode Island homeowners.”
The HHFRI program offers a five-year, zero interest forgivable loan for eligible homeowners to pay up to six months of mortgage payments. This program helps qualified homeowners make monthly mortgage payments and/or catch up on their payments if they have fallen behind due to a recent involuntary loss of employment or reduction in employment income. Payments can also cover arrearages if the homeowner fell behind because he/she is unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic. All borrowers must have been current on their mortgage payments as of March 1 and must meet certain income and eligibility criteria. Applicants currently in a forbearance agreement with their lenders are eligible for the program.
“The COVID pandemic has put many homeowners in a tight financial spot, making it hard to keep up with housing costs,” said Carol Ventura, executive director of Rhode Island Housing. “RIHousing is proud that we can offer this assistance to help Rhode Islanders remain in their homes. Since the start of the pandemic, RIHousing has been working to roll out new programs to provide relief for both renters and homeowners.”
Funds for the program are limited and will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. The program will be offered until full allocation is reached. Rhode Island homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments due to a loss of income resulting from COVID-19 are encouraged to reach out. Information and applications for help can be found at www.rihousing.com/HHFRI.