By Stephen Smoot
Residents of West Virginia still experiencing financial difficulties related to the COVID 19 pandemic may qualify for expanded assistance.
The West Virginia Housing Development Fund received approximately $50 million from the United States Department of the Treasury to set up the West Virginia Homeowner Rescue Program. Funds are meant to support those struggling to pay for their homes or home related expenses. The program marks Jan. 21, 2020, as the start date of consideration, but hardships that started before that date may be considered.
One important change allows a homeowner to apply for mortgage assistance after being 60 days behind. Prior to these changes, one had to wait 90 days. The cap on payments also increased from $15 – $20,000. State officials acknowledged to West Virginia Metro News that the changes occurred because “people needed more help and they needed it sooner.”
Jessica Greathouse, a special programs manager for the WVHDF, told West Virginia Metro News that “you don’t have to have a mortgage to qualify. If you own your home outright, you’ve paid it off, and you just can’t keep up with your taxes, utilities, and insurance, for instance, you can still apply.”
According to the WVHDF website, applicants “must currently own and occupy the property as their primary residence.” Also, the property must lay within the State of West Virginia and household income cannot exceed 150% of the Area Median Income or 100% of the median income of the United States, whichever is greater.
For Pendleton County residents, the income limit for applicants up to three people in the household is $79,000. A four-person household can earn up to $82,000, five $88,000, six $95,400, seven $101,950, and a household of eight has an income limit of $108,550.
Homeowners can apply for relief to help with the following conditions: job loss, reduced income, significant health care costs, or some other hardship caused directly or indirectly by the COVID pandemic.
Applicants for relief will need documentation to demonstrate household income, qualifying hardship, proof of both ownership and residency, documentation of eligible expenses, and evidence of the qualifying hardship. The application will also require a current mortgage statement (if applicable), proof of identification, proof of residency, proof of income (for those over 18), utilities and internet bills within 45 days of the application, and expenses documentation.
Applicants cannot get assistance for second homes, vacant or abandoned properties, or investments. Other restrictions include co-owners being unable to file separate applications. Funds used from this program are ineligible for use for expenses that have been or will be reimbursed by federal, state, or local efforts. Loan related restrictions can also apply to applicants.
The WVHDF operates a portal for applicants to use online. Those lacking internet service can call 1 (844) 542-0035. Applicants can also email email@example.com. Check out the site WVHDF.com/west-virginia-homeowners-rescue, or look up West Virginia Homeowners Rescue for complete detailed information.