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New York launches relief fund for homeowners struggling with mortgage, bills

Credit: BigStock/Andy Dean Photography
Credit: BigStock/Andy Dean Photography

NEW YORK NOW - New York is launching a $539 million fund to help homeowners who’ve struggled to pay their mortgage due to financial hardship experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

The program will begin accepting applications for relief on January 3, Hochul said, and will first be targeted at homeowners already under litigation in vulnerable communities.

"Help is on the way for literally thousands of families hurt by the pandemic," Hochul said.

Homeowners will be eligible for aid if their household income is equal to or less than their area’s median income, depending on the size of the household. The median income for a household of two people is lower than that of four people, for example.

Those funds can be used by homeowners to pay their mortgage, property taxes, sewage or water bills, and other fees associated with the property.

Homeowners can apply to receive the amount they’re behind on those payments, with a cap of $50,000 in relief per household. If a homeowner is unemployed, they can also apply for up to six months of future housing payments.

The application period will be open for 30 days, according to the program’s website, but that’ll be extended if the funding isn’t completely spent.

New York was approved for the federally-funded program last month after applying in August, Hochul said.

It’s separate from the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which was open earlier this year for tenants who couldn’t pay their rent due to COVID-related financial hardship. That fund, a mix of federal and state money, was depleted in early November.

The Hochul administration has asked the federal government for an additional $996 million to refill the rental assistance fund, but there haven’t been any updates on that request.

New York’s moratorium on evictions is set to expire on January 15.