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.
Maine HAF can give eligible homeowners grants of up to $50,000 for the following types of assistance:
- mortgage help;
- property tax, HOA, and homeowner insurance help; and
- utility help.
Homeowners are limited to a total of $50,000 in help per household from the Maine HAF.
Maine HAF is a federal program run by the State of Maine. Maine received $42.6 million from the federal government for this program. It will make grants on a first-come first-served basis to eligible Maine homeowners.
To apply, homeowners can complete an online application or contact your local Community Action Agency for a paper application or assistance with your application. Homeowners can also call 1-888-664-2569 for the Foreclosure Prevention Hotline to be connected to a housing counselor.
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 decrease in income, increase in expenses, or other financial hardship 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 Housing website.
If you need help completing the online application, contact your local Community Action Agency.
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 $86,000 or less, you qualify for Maine HAF. Depending on your household size and where you live, the income limit will be higher. Check whether your household is income-eligible here. 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, mobile home lot rent, 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, or some other financial hardship that was caused or made worse by the COVID-19 emergency. You don’t need to have gotten COVID-19 to qualify. Some examples of a COVID-19-related hardship are:
- You or someone in your household had a loss or reduction of income because a workplace was forced to close or scale back due to COVID;
- loss of self employment income due to a reduction in customers caused by COVID-19;
- loss of household income due to a household member's sickness or death related to COVID-19;
- 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, such as buying masks or gloves or paying for alternative transportation to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19;
- expenses related to caring for someone at home who had COVID-19; and many more.
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 have reason to believe 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,
- lot rent at a mobile home park,
- condo fees or HOA fees, and
- homeowners insurance.
How can HAF funds be used to help me with pay my mortgage?
There are some different ways that HAF funds can help you get caught up on past-due mortgage payments:
- Reinstatement: “Reinstatement” means that HAF pays off the entire overdue balance owed on your mortgage, including all missed payments, late fees, and other charges, so that you are current on your loan again.
- 3 regular monthly mortgage payments: after HAF pays off your overdue balance, you are also eligible to have HAF pay your next 3 regularly-scheduled mortgage payments.
- Help with modifying your loan: if you are more than $50,000 behind on their mortgage payments, you might be able to make an agreement with your mortgage servicer to make a payment plan that includes the HAF funds. This is called a “loan modification.”
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. HAF can help you pay for the mortgage on your mobile home, or the lot rent, or both, so long as your total assistance does not go above $50,000.
- If you rent your house or mobile home, you probably will not qualify for HAF, but you may qualify for Emergency Rental Assistance.
What if I owe more than $50,000 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.
You may be able to request Maine HAF funds to pay enough of your past-due mortgage payments to qualify for a loan modification.
If you can pay the difference between the total past-due mortgage payments and $50,000 in HAF funds, you might still be eligible for a HAF grant without going through the loan modification process with your mortgage company. For example, if you are $52,000 behind on your loan and you are able to pay $2,000 all at once to make up the difference, you could still get $50,000 in HAF funds to bring you current.
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?
You can either complete an online application or visit one of the Community Action Agencies in your area to complete a paper application.
If you cannot complete the application yourself, a local agency can help you. Contact your local Community Action Agency to get started.
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.
I already received HAF funds to help me with my mortgage or another housing expense. Can I get more help from HAF?
Your household can receive up to $50,000 in HAF funds. If you have received less than $50,000 in HAF funds and you need more help to get caught up on your mortgage or other household payments, you could be eligible for further assistance.