Amid the recent news that the Internal Revenue Service has issued another batch of 2.3 million coronavirus stimulus checks under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, there appears to be a different “secret” stimulus check that is only given to certain Americans—homeowners.
Take note that this new money is from the nearly $10 billion Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF), which aims to provide direct cash payments to states, territories, and tribes to financially support their respective homeowners.
“The purpose of the Homeowner Assistance Fund is to prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020,” the Treasury Department writes on its website.
“Funds from the HAF may be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments, and other specified purposes. The law prioritizes funds for homeowners who have experienced the greatest hardships, leveraging local and national income indicators to maximize the impact,” it continues.
Aside from having experienced monetary hardship after January 21, eligible homeowners also must have income equal to or less than 150 percent of the area median income, have proof of the stated financial hardship, and have a mortgage balance that is less than $548,250.
Meanwhile, despite the ongoing pandemic, many homeowners are continuing to get richer as their property values keep surging.
According to CoreLogic, Americans with mortgages witnessed their equity climb by 20 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, representing a staggering collective cash gain of nearly $2 trillion. Broken down further, that’s an average gain of $33,400 for each homeowner.
Keep in mind that Biden’s stimulus bill is also helping to offer much-needed assistance to renters. The government has already allocated $46 billion for this endeavor, and for those who are deemed eligible, they could potentially be on the receiving end of a whopping $25,000 to cover both missed and future rent for up to eighteen months.
“The Treasury (Emergency Rental Assistance) program includes an unprecedented amount of funding for emergency rental assistance to help renters stay stably housed,” writes the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
A new University of California study has revealed that landlords are collectively owed more than $20 billion in back rent from their tenants.
In order to qualify for the benefits, at least one member of a household must be eligible to collect unemployment. In some cases, individuals will be able to state in writing that the pandemic has caused so much financial hardship that it made it impossible to pay rent each month. Furthermore, earned income from last year must not surpass 80 percent of the surrounding community’s median income levels.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.