The state of Vermont announced on Monday that its own Homeowner Assistance Program (HAP), with a funding level of approximately $50 million, is now active in the state and includes assistance for the state’s reverse mortgage borrowers. This is according to an announcement issued by the office of Gov. Phil Scott (R).
Through the state-administered program, individual Vermont households will be issued grants of up to $30,000 to be applied to overdue mortgage payments, utility bills, property taxes, and property association charges, according to the announcement. Like other state-administered programs aimed at helping homeowners recover from economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the funding is sourced from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) championed by the White House and passed in Congress in early 2021.
“As we move forward in our recovery, my Administration is making housing a top priority,” said Gov. Scott in an announcement of the program’s launch. “In addition to supporting those experiencing homelessness and building new housing stock, we must also work to keep Vermonters in their homes, to stabilize neighborhoods and preserve the health of our communities. This program offers another tool to help accomplish this.”
The passage of the American Rescue Plan Act was supported by Vermont’s entire federal congressional delegation, including Sens. Patrick Leahy (D) and Bernie Sanders (I), as well as Rep. Peter Welch. All three men issued a joint statement on the launch of the program.
“As foreclosure moratoriums and forbearance agreements end, many Vermonters are facing an uncertain future,” the delegation said in its statement. “These funds will help homeowners harmed by the pandemic get caught up on their bills and move forward.”
Earlier on in the pandemic, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) organized its own state-sourced homeowners assistance program which has already provided relief to homeowners requiring assistance for mortgage and property tax payments. However, certain residents – including borrowers of reverse mortgages – did not have access to such programs. The program bolstered by the American Rescue Plan Act, however, expands the eligibility criteria for Vermont residents to include reverse mortgage borrowers, according to the state’s announcement.
“The additional federal ARPA funding allows the HAP to offer expanded criteria to support homeowners who do not have a mortgage or who have a reverse mortgage, and it will also cover utility bills and homeowner and condominium association fees, to help even more households facing financial challenges,” the announcement said.
Vermont is the latest state to announce eligibility of reverse mortgage borrowers through its disbursement of Homeowners Assistance Program funds as allocated by the American Rescue Plan. Recently, New York and California also outlined reverse mortgage eligibility in their announcements.
Read the state’s announcement.