While there doesn't seem to be a fourth stimulus check on the horizon, the American Rescue Plan does include more relief that could help millions of American homeowners who struggled during the coronavirus pandemic. The package, signed by President Joe Biden in March, includes a little-publicized program called the Homeowners Assistance Fund. Unlike the $1,400 stimulus check that was automatically sent to American taxpayers who qualified, this relief requires homeowners to apply.
The American Rescue Plan set aside $10 billion for the Homeowners Assistance Fund. It is meant to help homeowners pay their mortgage, but can also be used to pay taxes, insurance, utilities, and other expenses homeowners face, notes Forbes. The U.S. Treasury is now in the process of sending the funds to states, and the funds will be distributed through state housing agencies. The amount of aid being sent to each state is based on several thresholds, including unemployment levels, foreclosures, and the number of late mortgage payments.
While aid may vary from state to state, each will receive at least $50 million for the program, according to a Treasury Department fact sheet. A minimum of $50 million was also set aside for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. There is also $30 million set aside for Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The fund also includes an "explicit mandate to prioritize socially disadvantaged households." States have until Sept. 30, 2025, to spend the mortgage relief. Homeowners can contact their state housing agency to learn how they may plan to distribute the aid and how homeowners can receive it.
There are also several qualifications a homeowner must meet to receive the aid. You have to own your own home and have a mortgage. The mortgage balance in 2012 must be under $584,250. The relief is in addition to the federal moratorium on mortgage foreclosures, which is still in effect through the end of June.
The cost of the American Rescue Plan was $1.9 trillion, so the Homeowners Assistance Fund and the stimulus check were only two of the programs receiving funding. The act also expanded the federal child tax credit, so families could receive up to $3,600 per child. Another obscure program is the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, WKRC reports. This fund earmarks $350 billion to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to help them with rising costs during the pandemic. Each state will receive a minimum of $500 million, and $20 billion was set aside for tribal governments and $4.5 billion for the U.S. territories. The fund also set aside $130 billion for local governments. Members of local government can click here to use the Treasury site to apply.