CommunityHomeownership

Bowser Administration Offers Homeowners Aid During Pandemic

District homeowners who are having problems paying on their mortgages as a result of a financial loss due to the coronavirus pandemic have some options for relief.

“We know that for many D.C. families, keeping up with their monthly mortgage payments has been a tremendous struggle during these unprecedented times,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said last year.

While a lot of public attention has been paid to the STAY DC program which uses federal funds to assist tenants who have had a reduction or loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic with their rent and utilities, there has been little focus on struggling homeowners. Clifford Beckford, the executive director of Lydia’s House in Southeast which assists low-income and at-risk families secure housing, warned of a possible wave of foreclosures in the coming months as moratoria and forbearance programs end at a virtual hearing of the D.C. Council’s Committee of the Whole on Aug. 31.

DC MAP Program

In 2020, Bowser along with the leaders of the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency, (DCHFA) announced the relaunch of the $4 million DC Mortgage Assistance Program COVID-19 (DC MAP) to aid homeowners who have been economically adversely affected by the pandemic. Before the pandemic, the program served as a vehicle to help homeowners who got behind their mortgage payments due primarily to the 2018 federal government shutdown.

Bowser said in 2020 “by repurposing this program this existing assistance program, we can provide homeowners with some peace of mind and help relieve some of the financial burden during this public health emergency.”

Christopher E. Donald, executive director of the DCHFA, said his agency stresses the importance of “helping District residents retain their status as homeowners.”

“DCHFA is committed to helping D.C. homeowners sustain during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Donald said.

To qualify for DC MAP, the DCHFA website says a borrower’s primary residence must be located in the city, must have been current on their mortgage as of March 1, 2020, be able to provide documentation of income affected due to the pandemic, borrower must be the borrower on the home loan and show proof the borrower doesn’t qualify for forbearance or other type of city relief funds. If a borrower meets those qualifications, a loan of up to $5,000 monthly toward their mortgage for up to six months will be given out.

The DC MAP loan must be secured by a deed of trust and has zero interest.

Additional Assistance is on the Way

D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio told The Informer on Sept. 20 that the Bowser administration will unveil a new program to assist homeowners with mortgage problems fueled by the pandemic in the near future.

“We submitted a plan to the federal government last month at the level of $50 million to help mortgages that are in arrears due to COVID,” he said. “We encourage homeowners to utilize DC MAP until then. There are other means for homeowners to stay afloat. I know a number of banks have programs to help people during the pandemic by extending the forbearance or providing additional assistance. People should contact their mortgage lender to see what they have to offer.”

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