This press release was published on behalf of the Florida Department of Equal Opportunity.
Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced that the Department has launched the state’s next phase of the Homeowner Assistance Fund program, a registration portal for homeowners to begin the first step in determining their eligibility to receive assistance, which went live on February 28, 2022, and can be found at www.FLHomeownerAssistance.org. Florida launched its Homeowner Assistance Fund Pilot Program on November 8, 2021, and is one of only twelve states that proactively launched a pilot program while waiting for the U.S. Treasury’s approval of their needs assessments and plan. To date, DEO has provided more than $1 million in assistance to 137 Florida homeowners through the pilot program to mitigate financial hardships following the pandemic.
“The state of Florida is proud to announce the launch of the next phase of the Homeowner Assistance Fund program. This is another important step forward to continue helping Florida homeowners who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through no fault of their own,” said Secretary Dane Eagle. “These funds will help the state’s homeowners become current on their mortgages and other homeowner expenses and will help prepare Florida families for future financial stability.”
This next phase of the state of Florida’s Homeowner Assistance Fund program comes on the heels of the United States Department of the Treasury’s (U.S. Treasury) approval of the state’s Homeowner Assistance Fund Needs Assessment and Plan on February 9, 2022. DEO submitted its Homeowner Assistance Fund Needs Assessment and Plan to the U.S. Treasury, the federal administrator of the program, on August 20, 2021. DEO will administer its pilot program concurrently with the statewide Homeowner Assistance Fund program to ensure the Department is able to assist as many homeowners as possible.
Through the pilot program, DEO works with service providers in banking, property insurance, and utilities industries to identify customers who may be eligible to receive assistance. DEO, in turn, works directly with those homeowners to determine their eligibility for the program and provide assistance.
“Duke Energy’s collaboration with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has been instrumental in connecting our customers to financial assistance through the Homeowner Assistance Fund pilot program,” said Melissa Seixas, president of Duke Energy Florida. “Our customers remain our top priority. Many continue to face economic adversity. We want to be thoughtful and the pilot program provides customers with resources and payment options to avoid power interruptions.”
“With the pandemic continuing to affect so many, we understand some folks are experiencing financial hardship,” said Karen Sparkman, vice president of Customer Experience at Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas. “We are proud to be a strong community partner in this pilot program that connects homeowners with critical utility assistance and other funding to support their needs.”
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to work with DEO to connect customers with critical relief in their time of need,” said Steve Whitworth of Florida Power & Light.
Florida homeowners who are eligible for the program include those who have experienced a financial hardship after, or that continued after, January 21, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, meet the income qualifications, and are homeowners requesting assistance for their primary residences. This registration process will help to ensure that eligible Florida homeowners receive assistance as quickly and efficiently as possible. Florida homeowners who believe they may be eligible are encouraged to register. Many Florida homeowners have already experienced the positive impact that this fund can offer other eligible participants in the program.
“I fell and broke my hip and was unable to pay for my homeowner’s insurance. If I could not make that payment, I would have been in default with my mortgage,” said Linda T., a homeowner assisted by the Homeowner Assistance Fund pilot program through Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. “Thankfully the HAF program helped me with my payment, so I did not lose my house. It came in at the right time for me, that’s for sure!”“It helped me a lot because I had gotten an extension on my electricity bill, but it had come due and I did not know how I was going to pay it,” said Leah B., a homeowner assisted by the Homeowner Assistance Fund pilot program through Duke Energy. “Then the HAF funds came in just in time. The process was painless and very easy.”
Once a homeowner’s registration has been reviewed and the homeowner is determined as potentially eligible, an email with detailed information will be sent for the homeowner to complete the next step of the application process. The Homeowner Assistance Fund was created to mitigate financial hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic by preventing homeowners’ mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, and displacement, as well as loss of utilities, home energy services, and insurance. Learn more and register to participate by visiting www.FLHomeownerAssistance.org.