Alaska’s state housing agency has distributed more than $243 million in financial aid the past year to help renters hurt economically by the pandemic and will soon embark on a $50 million federally funded program to help homeowners, too.
The aid can go toward eligible homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments, and may also be applied to current and past-due property taxes, insurance premiums and utility bills, the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. announced Friday.
Preregistration for Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance opens Monday at alaskahousingrelief.org. Applications will be accepted March 14 through April 4.
The Alaska Housing Finance Corp., which is administering the homeowner relief program, said there are income eligibility limits for the assistance, based on each community’s average median income. Households at the lower end of eligibility standards will be given priority for the limited funds.
The program website will automatically calculate an applicant’s income eligibility based on their home address.
“Once registered, applicants will be automatically connected to an online eligibility checker to quickly verify if they meet program requirements,” the agency said in its announcement.
The financial aid is available only for residents whose Alaska home is their primary residence, and applicants must be able to demonstrate that their financial hardships are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as a loss or reduction in income.
Residents in mobile homes and manufactured homes are eligible, same as any other house.
Applicants will be asked to submit 2020 or 2021 tax returns and a mortgage statement and other verification, the agency said.
The $50 million allocation is Alaska’s share of $9.9 billion that Congress appropriated for homeowner relief in last year’s American Rescue Plan Act.
Homeowners will be able to apply and submit eligibility documentation “through a dedicated and secure online web portal,” the Alaska housing agency said, explaining that it will send payments on behalf of approved applicants to their mortgage servicer, lender, municipal tax office, utilities — wherever the money is owed — rather than to homeowners directly.
AHFC reported there are about 163,000 owner-occupied houses in Alaska, with homeowners owing on almost 100,000 mortgages.
The federally funded renter assistance program, which has been underway about a year, has helped almost 40,000 Alaska households with rent and utility payments totaling more than $243 million as of last week, according to the housing agency.
Of that total, 80 renters in Wrangell — about one in 13 households in the community, according to U.S. Census numbers — have benefited from more than $500,000 paid toward past-due and future rent and utilities.
Renters in Ketchikan over the past year have received more than $9.3 million in assistance under the program, with about $4.3 million going to Sitka renters, $1 million in Petersburg, $635,000 in Haines and $617,000 in Skagway.
Congress allocated almost $47 billion in renter assistance in aid packages in 2020 and 2021.