Missourians who experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to pay their mortgage can now apply for help through the State Assistance for Housing Relief (SAFHR) program.
Starting March 1, the federally-funded SAFHR for Homeowners program will begin to provide nearly $140 million in assistance to homeowners to pay past-due mortgage balances and help prevent foreclosures.
The program has previously only been open to renters or those behind on utility payments.
To be eligible, applicants must have experienced a reduction in income or increase in qualified expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. They must also be behind on at least one mortgage payment and currently own and occupy the property as their primary residence.
For those who qualify, the program will pay the mortgage lender directly for past due balances and fees, which includes missed regular payments, deferred payments, and payments missed during a forbearance period.
The state will also continue its program to provide rent and utility arrears for the period beginning April 2020 and up to three months of forward rent and utility assistance for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Missouri received $323.7 million as part of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA1), the COVID-relief package Congress approved in December 2020.
Since the SAHFR for Renters program launched a year ago, the state has struggled to process applications quickly and get funds into the hands of families. This fall, the state was in danger of losing the funds because it had only awarded 18% of the ERA1 funds as of Sept. 30.
However since mid-January, the state has doubled the amount of rental assistance it disburses every week to average more than $7 million, according to the Missouri Housing Development Commission’s dashboard. As of March 1, the state has awarded $186.4 million in rental assistance to 23,000 families.