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Q&AZ: Why has Arizona's Homeowner Assistance Fund mostly assisted with utilities and not mortgages?

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Monday, January 17, 2022 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, January 17, 2022 - 8:13am
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In early November, the Arizona Department of Housing launched the Homeowner Assistance Fund meant to help people affected by the pandemic avoid foreclosure.

Through KJZZ's Q&AZ project, one listener asked: Why has the fund mostly helped homeowners with utilities and not mortgage payments, so far?

The  Homeowner Assistance Fund was announced in November, with a budget of nearly $200 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. But, halfway through January, only about $200,000 has been used, almost exclusively for utility bills.

Cindy Stotler is the deputy director of the Arizona Department of Housing. She says utility companies jumped on the project quickly, but deals with mortgage companies are often harder to put in place.

“You're dealing with their attorneys and their execs to get agreements signed, and then their security professionals to get the complicated banking information to set up electronic payments. So that process has taken much longer than the local utilities,” said Stotler.

Stotler says the project was recently granted approval from the United States Treasury, giving them access to all of the allotted funds.

She says the  Homeowner Assistance Fund dashboard should reflect the first set of mortgage payments soon.

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