The following is printed with permission of MN HOC.

The Minnesota Homeownership Center and Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota have entered into a partnership aimed at helping homeowners facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 to keep their mortgages in good standing and avoid foreclosure. The two organizations applied for and received authorization to administer and distribute up to $10 million from Minnesota Housing’s COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP), unveiled on Monday, August 24. CHAP will provide housing assistance payments to help maintain housing stability for eligible renters and homeowners. The Homeownership Center and Habitat Minnesota are among a number of local organizations across the state chosen to administer up to $100 million in relief before the end of 2020.

“We’ve very pleased that the state is acknowledging the importance of homeownership preservation during this financially challenging time,” said Julie Gugin, president of the Minnesota Homeownership Center. “Minnesota has one of the highest ownership gaps in the country between white households and households of color, and we can’t afford to lose any more ground.” Habitat Minnesota executive director Cristen Incitti agreed, adding, “This investment by the state of Minnesota will help homeowners struggling financially from the effects of the pandemic through no fault of their own. It’s in all of our best interest to help these families keep their homes and continue reaping the financial and other benefits that go along with ownership.”

To qualify for assistance, Minnesota households must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Income at or below 300% of federal poverty guidelines, with a preference for those at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.
  • Have an eligible expense that was incurred after March 1, 2020 that is past due. Housing assistance funds can only be used for eligible expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.
  • Be unable to make one or more payments owed because of the public health emergency due to unemployment, illness, or another COVID-19 related issue.

 The program covers past-due housing expenses such as:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Rent payments
  • Contract for deed payments
  • Manufactured home park lot rents and payments
  • Utility payments
  • Homeowners Association fees

To apply for potential homeownership relief under CHAP, visit 211UnitedWay.org, text “MNHOME” to 898-211, or call 800-543-7709 (651-291-0211 in the Twin Cities Metro). Local administrators, including the Homeownership Center’s network partners and Habitat Minnesota’s local affiliates, will review applications, verify eligibility, and process payments for eligible expenses on behalf of households. Payments will be made directly to the entity owed the funds.
 
For those homeowners in need of help but not eligible for relief under CHAP, the Minnesota Homeownership Center offers free foreclosure prevention advisory services through a network of community-based organizations across the state. For more information on foreclosure prevention advisory services, visit hocmn.org/help.

About Minnesota Homeownership Center
The Minnesota Homeownership Center promotes and advances successful homeownership in Minnesota with an emphasis on serving those facing the greatest barriers to homeownership: lower income households and communities of color. We link individuals, homeownership advisors and industry stakeholders. We support community-based organizations with the structure and funding to develop and deliver culturally-responsive homeownership education and advising. And we collaborate and lead the development of innovative homeownership programming. We believe equitable access to homeownership is essential to strong communities and creates opportunities for generations to come. Minnesota Homeownership Center is on the web at HOCMN.org and on Facebook at HOCMN.
 
About Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota
Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota is a statewide resource development and support organization that serves, advocates for, and advances the work of Minnesota’s Habitat for Humanity affiliates to build and renovate simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need. Since 1997, Habitat Minnesota has helped Habitat affiliates by providing funding, financing, and resources totaling over $80 million, including $64.5 million in loan funding, $7.1 million in Federal Home Loan Bank funding, $3.3 million in Impact Fund/CRV funding, and over $5 million in funds raised through the Habitat 500 Bike Ride. In addition to funding, Habitat Minnesota provides training and technical assistance in a full range of areas where affiliates need support. Habitat Minnesota is on the web at HFHMN.org and on Facebook at HabitatMinnesota.