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COVID relief coming to homeowners in New York state

John Guccione

Homeowners facing foreclosure due to the pandemic may be eligible for relief.

Applications opened this week for New York’s Homeowner Assistance Fund, which has $539 million in federal dollars to help people who are behind on their mortgage payments, property taxes, and utility bills. Unemployed homeowners may receive up to six months of housing payments.

Dina Levy with the state’s Homes and Community Renewal agency said applicants can’t earn more than the area’s median income to be eligible. That’s roughly $80,000 a year for a family of four in Monroe County, according to the agency.

She said the program is designed to help many types of homeowners.

“It could be somebody who goes in a co-op or a condo and has fallen behind on monthly maintenance or carrying charges,” said Levy. “It could be a manufactured homeowner who lives in a manufactured home park and is falling behind either on their home debt or their lot rent.”

Levy said assistance is also available for property taxes or utilities, such as water and sewage.

Seventy-five organizations have partnered with the state to get the word out and assist residents ahead of the application website’s opening. PathStone is one of three agencies helping in the Rochester area.

Mary Leo, executive director of PathStone’s Housing Council, said banks and the foreclosure moratorium provided short-term plans to keep people from losing their homes during the pandemic. She said those plans haven’t decreased stress for homeowners, though.

“Very few have actually lost their housing, but they’re all very concerned on what their next steps are going to be,” Leo said.

Leo said that PathStone already had 100 families in the pipeline to get the assistance before the program launched on Monday. She said they plan to help more people throughout the month or until the application closes.

The state is expecting to receive thousands of applicants, and with a cap of $50,000 per household, funds aren’t guaranteed.

Levy said she doesn’t expect many homeowners will need the full amount. She said those whose applications are accepted should expect to receive the funds in a few weeks.

The assistance may have to be repaid if the homeowner sells, refinances or transfers ownership of the home within five years, the Homes and Community Renewal agency said on its website.

The state’s Attorney’s General Office will serve as a program partner to help advocate with mortgage lenders to ensure participants are receiving every federal and state resource available under the law.

People who need assistance in applying to the Homeowner Assistance Fund can contact PathStone or go to

April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.