WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Elected leaders and advocates gathered Monday in West Palm Beach to announce millions in new federal housing funds that are now available to struggling Florida homeowners.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., state Sen. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, and state Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, along with housing advocacy organization Floridians for Honest Lending, made the announcement during an event held outside of the Palm Beach County governmental center.
Berman said Florida has been appropriated $676 million as part of the Homeowner Assistance Fund, which was created last year through the American Rescue Plan.
The funds are being administered through Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO).
WATCH: Lawmakers announce new federal housing assistance
Homeowners must meet the following requirements to qualify for the program:
- If they experienced financial hardship after Jan. 21, 2020 (including a hardship that began before Jan. 21, 2020, but continued after that date)
- Must be Florida homeowners requesting assistance for their primary residence
- Incomes equal to or less than 150% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which is $95,000 for one person and $136,500 for a family of four
"The money can be used for mortgage payments, utility bills and even skyrocketing home insurance premiums," Berman said. "If approved, the applicants can expect DEO to disperse the funds directly to their mortgage lenders, their local taxing authorities, property and flood insurance carriers, utility service providers and internet service providers."
Since the pandemic, the cost of housing has skyrocketed in Florida, pricing many local residents out of their homes.
The program aims to prevent the loss of 20,000 homes to foreclosure.
Polsky said about 24,000 people have already applied for the funds thus far through DEO, but only 386 people have been approved.
The Homeowner Assistance Fund Customer Assistance Center can be contacted at 833-987-8997 and is available Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time.
Berman said more information can be found on the DEO website or by calling her office at 561-292-6014.
"This is real help for people who really need it at a moment where housing affordability is at kind of a crisis level in Florida," said Christopher Richmond with Floridians for Honest Lending.
The Palm Beach County Housing & Economic Sustainability is not a part of the Homeowner Assistance Fund but has other programs available for those in need.
Director Jonathan Brown said his department is working with state, local and federal organizations to keep people in their homes during these difficult times.
"To date, our programs have assisted over 2,000 families with other $15 million spent, and Palm Beach County is still in the business of helping families," Brown said. "If you need some help, please contact us at 561-233-3600."
ADDITIONAL HOUSING RESOURCES