Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) is closing the Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) program to most new applicants to avoid overcommitting funds. The application portal will close at noon PST Dec. 20. Homeowners who are in active foreclosure may still be able to apply through a housing counselor.
“We’re encouraging homeowners who are at imminent risk of housing displacement, socially disadvantaged individuals as defined by U.S. Treasury, or anyone who meets one of the additional eligibility criteria listed on the HAF website to apply for HAF assistance before noon Dec. 20,” said Ryan Vanden Brink, assistant director of Homeowner Assistance Programs. “Although we are accepting new applications, there may not be enough funds for everyone who applies as the program winds down.”
Existing applicants can continue to log on to the HAF portal to check the status of their application or scheduled payments.
OHCS planned its HAF program to operate as a safety net for the most at-risk homeowners who have no viable workout option, so those homeowners will receive priority processing. If funds still remain after the portal closes and applications are processed, HAF intake partners will be able to submit new applications on behalf of homeowners in a judicial foreclosure action or in nonjudicial foreclosure with a scheduled sale date. These applicants may need to complete intake paperwork and foreclosure prevention counseling before working with a counselor. Funding may not be available for all these new applications.
In addition to Oregon’s foreclosure moratorium and increased mortgage forbearance and default workout options, HAF has helped Oregon maintain a historically low foreclosure rate during and since the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping many in their homes. According to August 2023 Corelogic data, there were 1,016 residential foreclosures in Oregon, which reflects a 0.16% foreclosure rate, compared to a 20-year average 1.03% foreclosure rate.
As of Dec. 4, OHCS has approved 1,745 applications, totaling about $46.9 million of the $72 million available to homeowners when the program launched. Over $35 million in approved funds have already been paid with an average award of about $27,000. OHCS is reviewing or monitoring another 859 applications that, if approved, are projected to total $23.2 million in assistance. The agency projects $1.9 million remains. OHCS is currently working with homeowners, housing counselors, and mortgage servicers to postpone and prevent hundreds of foreclosures for applicants. Visit the HAF Dashboard for more detailed information.
Free help is available
Homeowners who have fallen behind or are at risk of missing a payment on their mortgage can continue to get free help from certified housing counselors around the state to learn about options to keep their homes, such as modifications or adding deferred payments to the end of a mortgage. Housing counselors are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated professionals who can help homeowners communicate with their mortgage servicers.
Search the full list of free certified housing counselors by county. Homeowners should be aware that some housing counseling agencies take longer due to high volume and remote working policies.
In addition to connecting with a certified housing counselor, Oregon homeowners should directly contact their mortgage servicers and lenders to see what types of mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention programs are available. Homeowners who communicate with their lenders and servicers have some additional protections and usually have more time to figure out their options.
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services recommends being extremely cautious with offers to help from unauthorized companies or people. Homeowners are urged not to provide financial or personal information unless they verify the company or person’s licensing status. It does not cost anything to apply for the HAF program or meet with an Oregon housing counselor.
There are several common warning signs homeowners should watch out for that may indicate a scam. If a homeowner suspects they’re being contacted by a scammer, they can report it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Oregon Department of Justice, or the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General.
To verify a lender’s license, visit the Division of Financial Regulation’s license page and compare it with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) license number. This number must be included on all advertising materials and should be easy to find. To verify a housing counseling agency’s status with the state, make sure they are listed on the OHCS website.