NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Monday that $539 million was approved by the federal government to assist in with an all-new state-based Homeowner Assistance Fund.

The governor said this program is a first of its kind in the U.S. and that New York was the first state to receive this kind of federal funding.

According to state officials, the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund (NYS HAF) is a “federally funded program dedicated to assisting homeowners who are at risk of default, foreclosure or displacement as result of a financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

State officials say they expect expect to receive “significantly” more applications than can be funded by the program. Applications will be processed in the order they were received and they say application submission does not guarantee you will receive financial assistance.

“It will never be enough, but it’s far more than we have right now,” Gov. Hochul said.

The governor said applications will begin to be accepted on January 2, 2022. The state has compiled an Application Guide which includes a list of documents you may need when you are ready to submit your application.


What is the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund (NYS HAF)?

The American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March of 2021 provided New York with funds to help homeowners at risk of default, foreclosure, and displacement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NYS HAF program is being administered by the NY State affordable housing agency, NYS Homes & Community Renewal (HCR), in partnership with Sustainable Neighborhoods LLC, a non-profit dedicated to foreclosure prevention and homeownership preservation.

Who Will Be Eligible to Apply?

Under NYS HAF, homeowners are defined as New York State residents who own a home and occupy that home as their primary residence (meaning it is where you live for the majority of every calendar year). Types of eligible homeowners include:

  • Mortgaged homeowners who are in a forbearance plan or were offered a forbearance plan that has expired; this may be a first and/or a second mortgage.
  • Mortgaged homeowners who were not offered a forbearance plan, or missed the option to apply for one, and are considered delinquent on their first or second mortgage.
  • Homeowners who are behind on payments for property taxes, water bills, or sewage bills.
  • Coop or condo homeowners who are behind on monthly carrying charges such as maintenance fees or homeowner association payments.
  • Homeowners who live in manufactured homes and who are behind on home loans, retail installment contracts used to purchase their homes or monthly lot rent payments.

Are there restrictions for who can apply based on income?

Homeowners whose household income is equal to or less than 100% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and who are at risk of foreclosure and/or displacement due to financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to apply (See chart HERE) for AMI by county and household size).

Do I need to live at the property to receive assistance?

Eligible applicants must currently own and occupy the property as their primary residence.

Can I apply if I am current on my mortgage or other housing payments?

Under the federal rules for HAF, an applicant must be at least 30 days behind on their monthly housing payments (mortgage payments, property taxes, condo or coop fees, etc). There is one exception to this rule: If you are current on your monthly housing payments, but you are currently unemployed, you can apply for up to 6 months of future housing payments.

Yes. If you are currently in foreclosure, or in another type of legal proceeding, you may still apply for assistance under the NYS HAF. Homeowners who are in active legal proceedings are encouraged to apply as soon as the program opens, and NYS HAF may also assist in connecting you to free legal services support if you are not already represented by an attorney.

If I have a mortgage, do I have to wait to get help from my bank before applying for NYS HAF?

No. You should apply for NYS HAF as soon as the application portal is open. You should also reach out to your bank today to see what kind of COVID-19 mortgage modification may be available to you. NYS HAF funds can be used to make your monthly payments affordable if your loan can’t be modified or if the modification offer is not affordable on its own.

For mortgaged borrowers, NYS HAF will have to coordinate with the bank or company that services your mortgage, which may add additional time to the process. The case management team will work with applicants and communicate through every step of the process to make sure that applicants know the status of their application and the expected time to complete the process.

I have a mortgage and I am still in forbearance with my bank. Should I apply for NYS HAF assistance?

Yes. You may apply for NYS HAF while you are still in forbearance.

Are land contracts considered the equivalent of mortgages?

If the applicant does not have a chattel loan or retail installment contract commonly found associated with manufactured homes, but rather a “rent-to-own” agreement on a stick-built house, they are eligible to submit a HAF application. For the purposes of HAF, we would consider this a mortgage and ask the applicant to fill out the mortgage section of the application.

COVID-19 update

Regarding the pandemic, New York officials announced three more cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus Saturday, bringing the number of state cases linked to the new variant to eight.

“The omicron variant is here, and as anticipated we are seeing the beginning of community spread,” state Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a news release.

In New York, seven of the cases have been found in New York City, once a global epicenter of the pandemic, and the other in Suffolk County.

The arrival of omicron comes as hospitals statewide continue to strain under a surge in coronavirus cases, most traced to the delta variant, along with staffing shortages.

The number of people testing positive statewide each day for the virus has doubled in the last 30 days.

Gov. Kathy Hochul in recent days has authorized the Health Department to limit nonessential, non-urgent procedures at hospitals close to running out of beds and deployed National Guard teams to relieve healthcare workers at facilities dealing with staffing issues and surging caseloads.

Fifteen members of the National Guard arrived at Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester on Saturday. Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin said Wednesday the state would send 13 National Guard teams to the western New York county, where County Executive Adam Bello has declared a state of emergency.

New York’s omicron cases so far appear to be unrelated, Hochul said. One of the known cases involved a man from Minnesota who was among 50,000 people who attended a three-day anime festival in New York City in November. Authorities have urged anyone who attended the conference to get tested for COVID-19 and wear a mask in public.

Much remains unknown about omicron, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it can thwart vaccines and whether it makes people as sick as the original strain.

“Omicron — we don’t know enough right now,” Gov. Hochul said. “The early reports are saying its highly transmissible, but doesn’t cause as much illness as delta, so the primary variant in this is delta and that’s what we are dealing with.”

Monday’s statewide coronavirus data, according to the governor’s office, is as follows:

  • Test Results Reported – 122,336
  • Total Positive – 6,078
  • Percent Positive – 4.97%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive – 4.82%
  • Patient Hospitalization – 3,285 (+49)
  • Patients Newly Admitted – 375
  • Patients in ICU – 621 (+2)
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation – 335 (+2)
  • Total Discharges – 217,702 (+315)
  • New deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS – 49 
  • Total deaths reported by healthcare facilities through HERDS – 46,806
    • The Health Electronic Response Data System is a NYS DOH data source that collects confirmed daily death data as reported by hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities only.  
  • Total deaths reported to and compiled by the CDC – 59,522
    • This daily COVID-19 provisional death certificate data reported by NYS DOH and NYC to the CDC includes those who died in any location, including hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, at home, in hospice and other settings.  
  • Total vaccine doses administered – 30,515,048
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours – 79,660
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days – 831,872
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose – 86.3%   
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series – 78.7%  
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) – 91.7% 
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) – 81.1%  
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose – 74.7%  
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series – 67.2%  
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) – 79.3%  
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) – 69.1% 

Each region’s 7-day average of cases per 100K population is as follows 

Region Friday, December 3, 2021Saturday, December 4, 2021Sunday, December 5, 2021
Capital Region66.5169.7170.43
Central New York61.6070.0471.05
Finger Lakes73.5178.6379.16
Long Island52.5055.6455.11
Mohawk Valley77.1882.2883.34
New York City22.4424.0324.44
North Country73.7577.8877.91
Southern Tier71.3379.3077.97
Western New York80.4384.4788.58

Each region’s 7-day average percentage of positive test results reported over the last three days is as follows:    

Region  Friday, December 3, 2021Saturday, December 4, 2021Sunday, December 5, 2021
Capital Region8.05%7.61%7.45%
Central New York7.98%8.11%8.01%
Finger Lakes10.58%10.32%10.29%
Long Island5.90%5.95%5.89%
Mohawk Valley8.74%8.49%8.41%
New York City2.25%2.26%2.26%
North Country9.22%8.86%8.81%
Southern Tier6.50%6.03%5.95%
Western New York11.15%11.10%11.22%

Watch the Full Press Conference here:

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.