By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore homeowners hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic could soon get some much-needed help through a new mortgage assistance program.

Mayor Brandon Scott on Thursday announced the establishment of the Emergency Mortgage & Housing Assistance Program (EMHAP) to help residents whose homes are on the verge of foreclosure.

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The program is being paid for by $3 million in federal grant funding set aside by the Scott administration. It will help homeowners cover past due mortgage and interest payments and related expenses.

It is estimated that 300-600 households will be able to benefit from the program, which will be closed once all funding has been allocated.

“We know that too many households have almost no financial cushion readily available to meet unexpected financial demands,” Scott said. “This is another safeguard we are offering as part of our overall economic recovery strategy.”

On behalf of eligible participants, the city will make direct payments to mortgage companies to offset past-due mortgage and interest payments, as well as homeowner’s insurance and property taxes.

Additionally, homeowners without mortgages can get help with past-due homeowner’s insurance, property tax and water bills.

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These assistance payments can be used for any six-month period since March 1, 2020, according to details provided by the mayor’s office.

In order to qualify for this program, homeowners need to meet the following criteria:

  • Gross annual household income at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI);
  • The property in question must be the homeowner’s primary residence;
  • Applicants must have a past-due mortgage balance or homeowner’s insurance, property taxes or water bills.

Besides those criteria, the homeowner also needs to prove that they suffered a financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as a loss of income.

Baltimore Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy said the Department of Housing & Community Development is rolling out measures to help homeowners struggling to make ends meet due to the pandemic.

“We estimate that we will be able to assist 300-600 households through this program,” Kennedy said in part.

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To apply for or to learn more about this program, visit the city’s website.

CBS Baltimore Staff