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North Dakota launches program to help with delinquent mortgage payments

The programs in North Dakota and Minnesota, funded by the U.S. Treasury, are meant to help with mortgage and other homeownership costs that people struggled to pay during the pandemic.

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BISMARCK — New funding is available to help North Dakota homeowners whose housing might be in jeopardy because they have been unable to pay their mortgages, utilities or other housing-related costs.

The North Dakota Department of Human Services announced the new ND Help for Homeowners program on Tuesday, July 5.

“Our goal is to support housing stability and sustain homeownership for North Dakotans who have experienced financial hardship because of the pandemic,” said Executive Policy Director Jessica Thomasson in a news release.

Congress approved $50 million from the federal Homeowners Assistance Fund for North Dakota.

The program is available through August 2025 or until program funds are exhausted.

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In August 2021, it was estimated around 2,500 North Dakota households were delinquent or in forbearance with mortgage payments due to the pandemic, based on state and national data.

David Flohr, executive director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, said residents have leveraged unemployment checks, drained savings accounts, maxed-out credit cards and sold personal belongings to make their mortgage payments.

As part of ND Help for Homeowners, a reinstatement program can assist homeowners with past-due mortgage payments that were paid by the loan servicer.

“This is just giving the homeowner back the equity that they would have had if they would have made the payments themselves,” Flohr said.

At a minimum, he said, the estimated 2,500 homeowners that are delinquent or in forbearance with their mortgage could be helped.

Another 27,000 North Dakota households that fell behind on utility payments during April and May of 2021 could also receive assistance, Flohr said.

Funds may also be available for delinquent property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, condo and housing association fees and other qualifying housing costs.

“North Dakotans have been resilient through numerous national and global economic disasters, and while the state’s overall foreclosure and delinquency numbers were below the national average during the pandemic, the hardships many households have endured cannot be minimized,” Flohr said.

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The program may help homeowners who lost income due to underlying health conditions, COVID-19 complications, unemployment, reduced work hours and other financial hardships.

Owners/occupants of single-family homes, duplexes, condominiums or manufactured homes who meet Treasury Department and state program criteria may qualify, the release said.

Payments are not made to individual homeowners but directly to the financial institution holding their mortgage and to other entities that are due payment.

Homeowners can apply online now at www.applyforhelp.nd.gov .

A related targeted home repair program is also under development and will be available in August 2022, the release said.

In Minnesota, the deadline to apply for a similar program has been extended.

Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho said the application period for HomeHelpMN has been extended until Aug. 17 at 5 p.m.

HomeHelpMN provides $109 million in federal assistance for homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage or other related expenses due to the pandemic.

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The Minnesota program opened for applications on May 17 and has already received applications from nearly 2,800 households, with requests for funds equal to about one-third of the available funding.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTAMINNESOTA
Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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