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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 21 July 2023

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) will resume accepting new applications for the Oregon Homeowner Assistance Fund program at 10 a.m. PST Aug. 2. The agency estimates there are enough funds to support about 500 additional eligible homeowners. The program offers federal temporary COVID-19 emergency mortgage relief intended to support homeowners who have experienced severe financial hardships due to the pandemic. It provides funding for past-due mortgages and other housing expenses, as well as ongoing payment assistance, to a limited number of homeowners with low to moderate incomes. 

The pause that began on May 31, 2023, allowed OHCS to assess current applications in its queue and better project the amount of HAF funds remaining for homeowners. As an exception during the pause, the program continued serving the most at-risk homeowners who were in active foreclosure.  

"Oregon families that were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are now at risk of foreclosure should review the HAF eligibility requirements and consider submitting an application," said Ryan Vanden Brink, assistant director of Homeowner Assistance Programs. "Any homeowner falling behind should reach out to their mortgage servicer or a free housing counselor at a state-approved homeownership center right away." 

HAF will reopen with a focus on homeowners in active foreclosure and those traditionally underserved by mortgage markets. Homeowners can learn more about eligibility requirements and, if eligible, apply online starting at 10 a.m. PST Aug. 2, 2023, at oregonhomeownerassistance.org.    

Free help is available 

Homeowners can get free help from certified housing counselors around the state to learn about budgeting tools and evaluation of options to keep their homes, such as modifications, adding deferred payments to the end of a mortgage, or HAF. Housing counselors are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated professionals who can help homeowners communicate with their mortgage servicers. 

Search the full list of free certified housing counselors by county. Homeowners should be aware that some housing counseling agencies take longer to respond due to remote working policies.  

In addition to connecting with a certified housing counselor, Oregon homeowners should directly contact their mortgage servicers and lenders to see what types of mortgage assistance and foreclosure prevention programs are available. Homeowners who communicate with their lenders and servicers have some additional protections and usually have more time to figure out their options. 

Avoiding fraud 

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services recommends being extremely cautious with offers to help from unauthorized companies or people. Homeowners are urged not to provide financial or personal information unless they verify the company or person’s licensing status. It does not cost anything to apply for the HAF program or meet with an Oregon housing counselor. 

There are a number of common warning signs homeowners should watch out for that may indicate a scam. If a homeowner suspects they’re being contacted by a scammer, they can file a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Oregon Department of Justice, or the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General

To verify a lender’s license, visit the Division of Financial Regulation’s license page and compare it with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) license number. This number must be included on all advertising materials and should be easy to find. To verify a housing counseling agency’s status with the state, make sure they are listed on the OHCS website.  

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