The Maine Homeowner Assistance Fund (“Maine HAF”) is a program meant to help homeowners who have experienced a financial hardship connected to COVID-19 and are at risk of losing their homes. This is a grant based program, homeowners will not have to pay this money back. For a brief overview, you may want to start with our video below:
Maine HAF can give eligible homeowners grants of:
- up to $25,000 for mortgage help;
- up to $15,000 for property tax, HOA, and homeowner insurance help; and
- up to $10,000 in utility help.
Homeowners are limited to a total of $25,000 in help per household from the Maine HAF.
Maine HAF is a federal program run by the State of Maine. It has $42.6 million in available help. It will make grants on a first-come first-served basis to eligible Maine homeowners who complete the online application.
To be eligible, homeowners must:
- be at or below certain income limits,
- be at risk of losing their primary residence or losing utility service, and
- have experienced a “material” decrease in income or increase in expenses associated with COVID-19.
A complete explanation of Maine HAF, list of eligibility criteria, list of documents and information you will need to apply, and list of ways to get help with your application, can all be found at the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection’s Maine HAF website.
If you need help completing the online application, call the Bureau’s Foreclosure Prevention Hotline at 1-888-664-2569.
The Maine HAF website has more detailed information and answers, but here are a few answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Maine HAF.
What are the income limits for Maine HAF?
If your household income is $90,000 or less, you qualify for Maine HAF. For larger households and households around Portland and Southern York County, the limit is a little higher.
What are the other eligibility requirements for Maine HAF?
Primary Residence in Maine: You must own your home. It must be in Maine. The home that you need help for must be your primary residence. The home can be a mobile home located on land you own or on a lot you rent.
1-4 Units: Your home cannot have more than 4 units.
Risk of home loss or utility disconnection:
- You must be at risk of losing your home because you are behind on your home loan, property taxes, condo or HOA dues, or homeowner’s insurance, OR
- You must be behind on your utilities, including internet.
COVID-19-Related Financial Hardship: You must have experienced a decrease in income or increase in expenses that was caused or made worse by the COVID-19 emergency. The change in income or expenses must have been “material,” which means a meaningful change. You don’t need to have gotten COVID-19 to qualify. Some examples of a COVID-19-related hardship are:
- a loss or reduction of income because your work was forced to close or scale back due to COVID;
- increased childcare duties due to COVID made you earn less money;
- increase in childcare expenses directly or indirectly related to COVID;
- increased COVID-related medical bills;
- increased expenses to avoid getting sick with COVID; and many others.
Demonstrate ability to continue to make your payments in the future: Only homeowners who show they can keep up their payments going forward will get help. This is not a requirement to get utility help.
To show this you can use records that show your income, like:
- Pay stubs,
- Bank account statements, or
- Benefit award letters.
What if I was behind on my payments before COVID-19 hit?
You can still qualify for Maine HAF even if your financial hardship started before COVID-19 if you can show that COVID-19 made it worse.
What will Maine HAF grant funds pay for?
Maine HAF funds can be used to pay past-due payments:
- for a home loan,
- property taxes,
- condo and HOA fees, and
- homeowners insurance.
Will Maine HAF funds be paid directly to me?
No. Maine HAF funds will be paid directly to the company or entity that is owed the money.
I don’t have a traditional mortgage. Do I still qualify for Maine HAF?
- If you live in a home that you are buying through a land installment contract or other financing agreement, you will qualify for Maine HAF.
- If you are living in a mobile home you own or are paying off through a financing agreement, but you rent your lot, you still qualify for Maine HAF.
- If you rent your house or mobile home, you probably will not qualify for HAF, but you may qualify for Emergency Rental Assistance.
How does Maine HAF work with any help I might get from my mortgage or home loan company?
Before you can qualify for Maine HAF to help with past-due mortgage/home loan payments, you will need to show that:
- you first asked your mortgage company for help through programs they offer, and
- your mortgage company did not offer you an affordable option.
If you have not yet talked to your mortgage company about their programs, you should as soon as possible. If you need help talking with or applying to your mortgage company for relief, Maine HAF can connect you with a free housing counselor who can help you. Call 1-888-664-2569 and ask for a housing counselor.
What if I owe more than $25,000 in past-due mortgage payments?
You should contact your mortgage company to ask about relief options. Many mortgage companies offer “loan modifications” to homeowners who got behind but are able to start making payments again, even if the payment needs to be lower.
If your mortgage company finds that you do not qualify for a loan modification, you may be able to request Maine HAF funds to pay enough of your past-due mortgage payments to qualify for a loan modification.
Can I apply for Maine HAF if I am already in foreclosure?
Yes. If you are in foreclosure, you should tell your mortgage company as soon as you have applied for Maine HAF. You should also update your mortgage company if you are approved for Maine HAF. Your mortgage company may pause the foreclosure if they know you have applied or are approved for Maine HAF.
How do I apply for Maine HAF?
The only way to apply is to complete an online application.
If you cannot complete the online application yourself, a free housing counselor can help you. Call 1-888-664-2569 and ask for a housing counselor to be connected with one.
Applying online involves uploading images of a few different documents depending on what kind of help you need. Before you start your application, you should look through the “Required Documents” list and gather the documents you will need and get them ready for uploading.
My household has multiple adults living here. Do we each need to apply?
No. Only one member of a household may complete a Maine HAF application. In the application, you will need to include the income information of all the adults living in the household.
I own my home but I’m not a borrower on my home loan or named on the deed. Can I still qualify for Maine HAF?
Yes. Often people become an owner of a home through a divorce or when a deeded owner dies. If you own a home and need help for past-due payments on an account that is under the prior owner’s name, you should still apply for Maine HAF.
You will have to show that you now have an ownership interest in the home. In some cases, you may have to take more legal steps to be recognized as a legal owner of the home.
Maine HAF may be able to connect you with a free lawyer if you have a question about ownership. Call 1-888-664-2569 if you feel you might need a lawyer to help you with an ownership question.
I have a legal problem that is preventing me from qualifying for Maine HAF. What should I do?
Maine HAF may be able to connect you with a free lawyer. Call 1-888-664-2569 if you feel you need a lawyer.
You can also contact PTLA directly and we may be able to help.
I had a COVID-Related Financial Hardship and I feel like I need a lawyer to help me avoid losing my home to foreclosure or property tax foreclosure. Can Maine HAF help me?
Yes. Maine HAF may be able to connect you to a free lawyer - even if you ultimately do not get or do not need grant money from Maine HAF. You can contact Pine Tree Legal during our intake hours, or call 1-888-664-2569.