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Own a Home? You Could Tap a “Secret Stimulus Check”

Trevor Filseth

Stimulus Help,

If you own a home or are in the process of paying off your mortgage, you can access an additional $10 billion program set aside for homeowners who fell behind on bills during the pandemic.

The three stimulus checks paid out so far – one in March 2020, one in December 2020, and one in March 2021 – have so far amounted to $3200 in direct cash relief to all American adults within certain income brackets.

However, the stimulus checks are far from the only financial relief that Americans can avail themselves of during the pandemic. The Biden administration has passed a raft of financial measures in the American Rescue Plan Act, the March legislation that provided for the third (and so far last) stimulus check. Many of these measures have been described elsewhere in detail, including the IRS’s “plus-up” payments and increases to the Child Income Tax Credit.

One of these measures concerns homeownership. If you own a home or are in the process of paying off your mortgage, you can access an additional $10 billion program set aside for homeowners who fell behind on bills during the pandemic.

According to the financial website MoneyWise, slightly under $10 billion has been set aside for the Homeowners Assistance Fund, a fund that provides assistance to homeowners in paying their mortgages, taxes, and other homeowner-related expenses.

This money has mostly been sent out to individual states to distribute through their statewide housing agencies, based on the number of late mortgage payments and foreclosures in each state, in addition to other considerations such as the unemployment rate. Per the Treasury Department, each state received at least $50 million from the fund; however, the states which received the most were California ($1 billion), Florida ($676 million) and Texas ($842 million).

There are some conditions attached to the aid requests. To qualify, you must own your home and have a mortgage with a balance of less than $550,000. You must also have an annual income that is lower than either your area’s median income or the national median income. Furthermore, 60% of the aid is earmarked for mortgages, and the funds from the program must be used before the end of September 2025.

The Biden administration (and the Trump administration before it) provided other means of assistance to homeowners and renters. Perhaps the single largest and most important measure has been the nationwide moratorium on evictions, blocking landlords from evicting tenants who are behind on their rent until after the pandemic. The eviction moratorium has repeatedly been extended for additional periods; it is currently set to expire at the end of June.

Trevor Filseth is a news reporter and writer for the National Interest.

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