CHARLESTON (WVDN) – A new program is working to help West Virginia homeowners stay afloat in these uncertain times. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have faced incredible financial hardships. Lost jobs, delayed unemployment funds, and various other situations have all played a part in causing issues. However, the West Virginia Homeowners Rescue Program is here to help.
Program manager Jessica Greathouse described the program by saying, “It’s a new program born out of the American Rescue Plan that provided each of the 50 states and territories with money for housing stability to help people who have had a COVID hardship, get caught up on their rent and utility payments. West Virginia has $50 million to spend to help West Virginia homeowners keep their houses which then lends to housing stability.”
Greathouse runs both this program and its sister program, Mountaineer Rental Assistance.
“The West Virginia Housing Development Fund is the administrator of the program, and I’m the manager for both the Homeowner Rescue Program and the West Virginia Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program, which is kind of the sister program for renters. I was hired specifically to run the programs and get money out to West Virginia homeowners on the homeowner side and then West Virginia renters on the rental assistance side.”
The application process is simple and easy to complete.
Greathouse said, “People can go to our website. They should first go to wvhomerescue.com and read all about the program, see what the eligibility requirements are, and find out what kind of documents they need to have together to apply online. Then, once they read up on that information, the online application is fairly simple. It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish to get through the application. It’s an online registration process and is best done in a single sitting, so they can upload their documents, ask for the money they need, and submit the application for processing by our agency.”
“We have different processes for different parts of the application. If someone’s asking for mortgage assistance, and they have a mortgage with a bank, we enter into an agreement with their bank to get information back and forth and that takes time. The utility assistance is handled a little differently in that, if we deem them eligible because they have had the hardship and are income-eligible, then the utilities potentially are paid before the mortgage assistance.”
Greathouse noted a few things applicants need to know before diving into the application process.
“A few things that the applicant needs to know for one, there are income requirements, but the income eligibility requirements are fairly liberal. In West Virginia, I’ll have to look it up for (your specific location), but for instance, in the Charleston area, you could make upwards of $79,000 and qualify for the program. The other thing is they had to have had some kind of hardship during the pandemic which isn’t a hard test to meet.
“We’ve all had different financial hardships whether it be making less money because we were off work for a certain amount of time, we had to quarantine at different times during the pandemic, that sort of thing. Also, we require that, if they’re asking for mortgage assistance, and they can receive up to $15,000 of mortgage assistance, they have to be at least 90 days behind in their mortgage payments. Also, to qualify they need to be behind in some way in their taxes, utilities, homeowner insurance, that sort of thing. Doesn’t have to be 90 days but they need to be behind in some way.”
Whether an applicant has already applied or has questions beforehand, there are a few ways to get the answers needed.
Greathouse said, “We have a lot of information on our website at wvhomerescue.com. There is a list of frequently asked questions along with all the eligibility requirements. They can also call our toll-free number which is 844-542-0035. And they’ll get a call agent that can provide them with information, and if that call agent can’t get them the information that they need, then they’ll make sure that they get their name and number and have someone call them back.
“Even if they don’t have a mortgage, they own their house outright, but they’re struggling to catch up on their gas bill or the electric bill after a cold winter. They have a past due amount they can apply online, and we can look through the application and see if it’s eligible to be paid.”
If you are a West Virginia homeowner and are struggling with mortgage or utility payments, Greathouse encourages you to apply.
For more information about the Homeowners Rescue Program, visit the website at wvhomerescue.com or call 844-542-0035.