ORANGE, Texas — Eligible homeowners in Orange County can qualify for a grant to have their delinquent taxes paid directly to the tax office to avoid foreclosure thanks to a program being implemented by the state.
The program is being made possible by the American Rescue Plan, which was approved by Congress to help homeowners affected by the pandemic.
(Editor's Note: The above video aired on Dec. 27, 2021)
You must own and occupy the home as your primary residence, and household income needs to be at or below the 100% Area Median Income Mark according to tax assessor collector Karen Fisher. Homeowners who have fallen behind on making payments and experienced a qualified financial hardship after January 21, 2020 can contact the tax office to find out more about the program.
The TDHCA's toll free phone number is also available to help those interested. You can reach the office at 833-651-3874.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is overseeing the program in Texas. It went live on Monday, February 21.
From a news release:
Orange County Tax Assessor Collector Karen Fisher announced a new program designed to help homeowners stay in their homes. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) passed by Congress provides money to help homeowners impacted by the pandemic avoid foreclosure of their homestead. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) is implementing the program in Texas and it is set to go live on Monday, February 21, 2022.
According to Ms. Fisher the program will pay the delinquent taxes for homeowners who qualify, "Homeowners that have delinquent taxes can apply to the program and if they qualify, TDHCA will send a check for the delinquent amount to my office so that the homeowner avoids foreclosure. The payment is a grant and not a loan." Basic qualifications include: have fallen behind on making your payments; own and occupy the property as your primary residence; household income is at or below 100% Area Median Income (AMI) and the household experienced a qualified financial hardship after January 21, 2020, such as lost income or increased expenses due to the pandemic. 'Hardships' can be anything from having lost your job or having to pay more for child care, medical supplies, food, clothing, etc.
Ms. Fisher's office has more information on the program and hopes homeowners in need will look to apply. "We are happy to work with taxpayers as much as we can but the program is being administered by the TDHCA. Interested homeowners can go on their special website http://www.TexasHomeownerAssistance.com or contact them on their toll-free number 833-651-3874 to get more information and to apply. It really is a great program and I encourage all homeowners who may have delinquent taxes to apply."
American Rescue Plan Act Background
In March of 2021 the U.S. Congress passed and POTUS signed the American Rescue Plan Act. One of the components of the Act was directed at homeowner relief. Congress created a Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF). That fund is intended to support homeowners impacted by the pandemic to help them stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure. TDHCA is the designated HAF administrator in Texas.
The program developed by TDHCA extends to homeowners who have delinquent taxes that could subject them to foreclosure. Eligible homeowners will be able to apply to TDHCA and if they qualify, receive a grant (not a loan) whereby TDHCA will send a check directly to their local tax office to pay delinquent taxes on their homestead - up to $25K. Basic eligibility guidelines will be:
- Have fallen behind on one or more payments: mortgage, property tax, property insurance, HOA/condo association fees.
- Household income at or below 100% Area Median Income (AMI)
- Own and occupy their home in Texas as their primary residence
- Household experienced a qualified financial hardship after January 21, 2020, such as lost income or increased expenses due to the pandemic.
Applicants will need to be able to provide:
- A form of identification – DL, SS card, Military ID, State ID card, Birth Certificate, etc.
- Income verification – pay stub, W2, IRS Form 1099, tax return, employer attestation, etc.
- Evidence of delinquency – a delinquent tax statement, demand letter from tax attorney, etc.
TDHCA is finalizing a website that applicants can go to in order to get more information about the program and the application process. http://www.TexasHomeownerAssistance.com
They'll also have a toll-free phone number available for support. 833-651-3874
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