As a senior on a fixed household income, affording your mortgage can sometimes be a concern.
While the overall financial health of the country has improved since the coronavirus pandemic began, many are still seeking mortgage assistance options in 2023.
For seniors who are experiencing financial hardship, there are programs that may be able to help you if you’re struggling with the payments on your primary residence.
Is there a mortgage relief program in 2023?
The federal government introduced a number of mortgage assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Over the last three years, the government launched programs to assist all homeowners, including seniors, who needed some support to make their monthly payments on their home loans.
Eligible homeowners may be able to get financial assistance for repayment of their mortgage loan.
Mortgage assistance programs for 2023
There are several mortgage assistance programs that are still available in 2023 to address housing instability. With the stress associated with unstable housing, studies have found that physical health has also been negatively impacted.
The Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF program)
The Homeowners Assistance Program Fund (HAF) was enacted on March 11, 2021, with funding of $9.961 billion for homeowners in the United States. It is a part of the American Rescue Plan.
Each state manages the program including their deadlines for applying and this bill will be authorized until September 30, 2025.
Other mortgage relief options for seniors
Besides the federal programs, there are other alternatives for finding mortgage relief options that are usually available to senior homeowners.
1. Refinance to a lower interest rate and/or extended loan term
You may be able to refinance your mortgage. This could be a good choice if your interest rate is higher than the current rate. Or you could refinance to extend your loan term, for example, going from a 15-year to a 30-year term in order to lower your monthly payments. In some cases, you can do both to lower the payment even more.
2. Use a Streamline Refinance
A streamline refinance may be possible if you have a mortgage through the FHA loan program that meets the following eligibility requirements:
- Not delinquent and are current on the mortgage
- Tangible net benefits to the borrower
An FHA streamline refinance doesn’t necessarily mean no there will be no out-of-pocket costs but usually it will involve significantly less paperwork than a conventional refinance. You can start the process by contacting your loan servicer.
3. Loan forbearance or loan modification
A loan forbearance or modification can help reduce or delay payments usually when you are having difficulty and need some assistance.
Forbearance – During a forbearance, mortgage payments are paused for a period of time and then paid back in a lump sum for the total that was deferred at the end of the loan term. The term itself can also be extended for a period of time such as 20 years and 6 months. Alternatively, the payments can be spread evenly across the remaining term to avoid a lump sum or a longer term once the forbearance period ends.
Loan Modification – Most loan modifications are for homeowners who have missed or are at risk of missing their mortgage payment due to a job loss, divorce, or other life event that reduces their income. Lenders may extend the loan term, reduce the interest rate, or change the loan from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed rate. Often the financial institution will want to see hardship documentation and will also review your debt-to-income ratio.
With either a forbearance or a loan modification, the borrower discusses their options directly with the lender who will either approve or deny their request.
4. Work with a state housing counselor to find local assistance programs
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has housing counseling services that can help homeowners discuss their situation regarding their finances including a potential foreclosure and other resources available in their state.
Biden’s mortgage relief program
For homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage obligations due to COVID-19 can request forbearance to reduce or pause for a temporary period of time. The official COVID-19 National Emergency is ended on May 11, 2023 and initial contact with the financial institution has to be made before that date. Also, six months after May 11, 2023 will be the longest forbearance granted.
COVID-19 Advance Loan Modification (ALM)
This loan modification is a permanent change in the original loan terms and typically reduces the principal and interest by at least 25 percent. If a borrower does qualify for the loan modification the mortgage servicer will send the loan modification documents for them to accept and sign.
What is the American Rescue Plan Act?
The American Rescue Plan Act provided emergency relief to families and small businesses, through a comprehensive set of programs including direct checks to individuals, extended and expanded unemployment benefits, and support to help struggling homeowners catch up on their mortgage payments and utility costs through the Homeowners Assistance Fund.
Beware of mortgage relief scams
Unfortunately, some individuals will seek out homeowners to engage in relief scams, especially those going through a foreclosure process. Often they will contact you directly and suggest the following remedies:
- Offer to be the contact between you and your lender in order to negotiate on your behalf
- Tell you foreclosure could be stopped if you start the process to declare bankruptcy
- Suggest legal assistance and then provide unqualified people as attorneys
- Collecting a fee in order to ensure and help you keep the home
- Offering to perform a forensic audit to help you keep your home
- Suggest signing their documents that are often fraudulent
If you suspect any of these scams have occurred, then contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the fraud.
Federal mortgage relief program for seniors FAQ
What is Biden’s mortgage relief program?
To mitigate post-pandemic foreclosures, the Biden administration introduced two significant loan modification program: the COVID-19 Forbearance program and the COVID-19 Advance Loan Modification (ALM) program. Both may offer relief options for seniors who are struggling with their mortgage payments.
Will the government pay off my mortgage?
No federal programs are currently available that pay off your mortgage. There are various loan modification programs to potentially help the homeowner from avoiding foreclosure, but not a federal program to pay the entire mortgage.
Is there a stimulus package for homeowners?
No current stimulus payments specifically being sent to homeowners are available at this time.
Is there a government mortgage relief program?
The American Rescue Plan authorized the use of $9.961 billion in funds for the Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF) in 2021. This allows homeowners that are facing hardships due to COVID-19 to potentially get help for mortgage payments and other related housing costs.
Is there a mortgage relief program for USDA loans?
If you have a USDA loan, you may be able to refinance with a USDA streamline refinance, which would be less expensive and quicker than a conventional refinance.
Is there a mortgage relief program in 2023?
HAF is the mortgage relief program that is available in 2023, and is managed at the state level. Not all states currently have an active program and the resources are allocated based on criteria for that state.
The bottom line: Mortgage relief is available for eligible seniors
For seniors struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments, there are options available.
Your lender can help walk you through the best options for your financial situation.