Officials earmark $40 million for rent, mortgage assistance
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware officials are using $40 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to help people struggling to make their rent or mortgage payments because of the pandemic.
Officials announced Monday that they were reopening the Delaware Housing Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance for renters affected by COVID-19. The program was initially launched in March but halted in April following an overwhelming number of applications.
The program offers money to renters affected by coronavirus-related business closures, layoffs, reduced work hours, or unpaid leave.
The HAP initially offered up to $1,500 for rent or utilities for those with a maximum post-pandemic household income at or below 80 percent of the area median for the county in which they live. Under the revised program, up to $5,000 will be available for those with a maximum household income post-pandemic at or below 60 percent of the area median. Applications must now be submitted by landlords or property owners on behalf of tenants, and payments will be made directly to the property owners.
The Delaware State Housing Authority also is providing emergency assistance of up to $5,000 to homeowners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through the Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, which was established several years ago. Funds will be made available for homeowners with a maximum post-pandemic household income at or below 80 percent of the area median who are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure because of a pandemic-related job loss, reduced work hours or unpaid leave.
Funding for the housing assistance is being split equally between the state and New Castle County.
Delaware’s state government received more than $927 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, while New Castle County received about $323 million.
State officials expect to use up to $500 million of CRF funding to cover unemployment benefits for the tens of thousands of Delawareans who lost their jobs after Gov. John Carney ordered that businesses be closed or restrict operations in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.
Direct response costs, including testing and contract tracing, are expected to eat up $150 million or more in CRF funds, with a similar amount in coronavirus relief funds earmarked for essential child care providers.
State finance secretary Rick Geisenberger said direct coronavirus relief spending by the state through early last week totaled about $104 million, with a large portion going for child care payments. That figure does not include the allocation for housing assistance funds announced Monday.