Thursday, September 29, 2022 / by Dave Magua
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has begun federal disaster assistance, including a new package of waivers offering regulatory and administrative relief to areas of Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Fiona, beginning on September 17, 2022, and continuing.
As Puerto Rico endures another disastrous hurricane, the Biden Administration is reaffirming its pledge to support communities hit as they struggle to recover from compounding disasters and the effects of climate change. On September 21, President Biden issued a major disaster declaration for municipalities in Puerto Rico.
Effective immediately, HUD is:
- Issuing waivers that offer flexibility and relief to Commonwealth and local partners: HUD has issued a new package of 29 regulatory and administrative waivers aimed at helping Puerto Rico communities accelerate their recovery from Hurricane Fiona. This represents one of the largest collections of regulatory and administrative waivers ever issued by the Department at one time.
- The regulatory and administrative relief announced today covers the following HUD programs: The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, Continuum of Care (CoC) Program, and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program. To expedite the use of these funds, HUD’s state and local partners can now access a waiver through a simplified notification process. HUD’s flexibilities include: Hurricane Fiona caused extensive damage and destruction to a large number of housing units; HUD recognizes that affected citizens may require additional assistance; and HUD is also adding flexibilities that permit emergency grant payments for items such as food, clothing, housing (rent or mortgage), or utilities for up to six consecutive months.
- Providing immediate foreclosure relief in counties covered by the major disaster declaration: HUD's automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages commenced on the date of the Presidential major disaster declaration, and foreclosures of mortgages to Native American borrowers guaranteed under the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee program; 90-day extensions were also automatically granted for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages commencing from the date of the Presidential major disaster declaration. For assistance, contact your mortgage servicer immediately. Your mortgage servicer, also known as your loan servicer, is the company to which you send your monthly mortgage payments.
- Making mortgage insurance available: HUD's Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims whose homes were destroyed or damaged to such an extent that reconstruction or replacement is necessary, and they are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders are eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs.
- Making insurance available for both mortgage and home rehabilitation: HUD's Section 203(k) loan program enables individuals to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing homes.
- Sharing information on housing providers and HUD programs: HUD will share information with FEMA and the State on housing providers that may have available units in the impacted counties, including Public Housing Agencies and Multi-Family owners. HUD will also connect FEMA and the State to subject matter experts to provide information on HUD programs and providers.
- Providing flexibility to Public Housing Agencies: Public Housing Agencies can apply for needed waivers and flexibilities for disaster relief and recovery. HUD also released PIH Notice 2022-09, which advises the public of HUD's streamlined process for waivers and flexibilities from HUD regulatory and administrative requirements for various Public Housing and Voucher Programs.
- Ensuring HUD-approved housing counseling agencies are ready to assist: HUD-approved housing counseling agencies have counselors available to assist those impacted by natural disasters to determine assistance needs and available resources. Find a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. You do not have to have an FHA-insured mortgage to meet with a HUD-approved housing counseling agency.
- Assisting with housing discrimination: HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is available to assist people who believe they have experienced housing discrimination. HUD may not be able to help you if your complaint is filed more than one year after the last discriminatory act.