PAHAF stands for the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund. This program was created through funds from the American Rescue Plan to help Pennsylvania homeowners who have been unable to pay their mortgage, taxes, and/or some other housing related debts because of COVID-19. The program, which began statewide on February 1, 2022, is administered by Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and until this month, managed by Innovating Emergency Management (IEM). PHFA announced in January that as of February 1, 2023, PHFA will take-over the full administration of the program.
At this time, there is a pause on new applications, and PHFA says those who are currently receiving assistance or awaiting disbursement of awards will continue to be processed by IEM. However, homeowners facing a fast-approaching sheriff sale or tax sale may still apply through a certified housing counselor. Applicants have begun receiving notices from PHFA about the transition process and frequently asked questions about the pause and transition can be found on the PAHAF website (See: https://pahaf.org/). Those having problems with disbursements that have stopped or have errors are encouraged to contact the PAHAF call center at 888-987-2423.
Applicants have experienced significant delays in the past year as many still await a disbursement of funds or a decision on their application. At this time, PAHAF’s dashboard shows over $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars) of the $350,000,000 in the fund have been disbursed as of February 15, 2023 (See: https://pahaf.org/program-dashboard/).
But there are thousands of applications that have been conditionally approved, and many more have not been processed. PHFA reports that all applications submitted before the pause will be processed, although they are prioritizing cases for expedited processing that have the greatest need, such as those who received a notice of foreclosure, sheriff sale, or a utility shut-off.
In November 2022 PHFA announced that program caps were increasing to better serve the needs of homeowners. Initially the total maximum payment allowed was up to $30,000, and that has been increased to $50,000. In addition to the total payment increase, PHFA also raised the limits for payments towards past due taxes, utilities, or property bills such as homeowner association fees. There are also funds available for past due taxes and utilities for homeowners, whether or not they have a mortgage or other property related debts. The maximum total assistance is now $50,000, with limits for delinquent property taxes of $14,000, utilities capped at $10,000, property charges up to $5,000, and reverse mortgage insurance costs up to $3,000 dollars.
In addition, for homeowners who are not delinquent in their mortgage, but have housing payments of more than 30% of available income, six months of future payments are available. Previously, future mortgage payments were only available if the homeowner was delinquent, and that requirement has been eliminated.
To be eligible for assistance, the homeowner must live in the home as their primary residence, have experienced financial difficulties due to COVID-19, and meet income and other eligibility requirements. NPLS has FAQs about PAHAF and mortgage foreclosure resources on our website, so please see the link below.
PHFA released its third quarter PAHAF state legislative report on November 15, 2022, which shows the total disbursed in Pennsylvania through September 30th of this year and includes a breakdown by county. Of $350,000,000 total funding, as of the end of last quarter over $46,000,000 (46 million) dollars has been disbursed (See: https://pahaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/PAHAF-Quarterly-State-Legislature-Report-Q3-2022-11-15-22.pdf).
As we explained when the program began last year, homeowners can only apply one time for assistance and we did not know how long these funds would last. Other states have exhausted their funds already. At this time, if you have not applied, check back to the website to see if PHFA has re-opened for new applications. You can apply directly online at https://pahaf.org/ or by telephone at 888-987-2423. If you have received an Act 91 notice, you should contact a housing counselor in your area to consider your options.