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Housing & Utilities

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Update 08/01/2022: Buncombe County has Approved a Homeowner Grant Program

  • If you own a home and have lived in Buncombe County for at least 5 years, you may be eligible for the Homeowner Grant Program.
  • Other requirements include:
    • Household Income under 80% area median income (see the Buncombe County website below for income amounts)
    • The home must be your primary and only residence.
    • You cannot already be receiving property tax assistance.
    • You cannot have more than $60,0000 in your checking and/or savings accounts.
  • You will have to submit proof of income, proof you have lived in the home for 5 years, and proof of the money in your checking and savings accounts.
  • If eligible, you can receive up to a $500 grant if you live in the Town of Woodfin or the city of Asheville, or up to a $300 grant in other parts of Buncombe County.
  • You can choose to have the grant applied to your property tax bill, any city municipality taxes, and/or other housing related costs, such as housing costs, mortgage, or insurance.
  • Find out more and apply online, or call (828) 250-5500 to see if you qualify.

Update 2/11/2022: Rental, Mortgage, & Utility Assistance Funds from Buncombe County and the North Carolina Homeowner Assistance Fund

Buncombe County has Additional Rental, Mortgage, and Utility Assistance Funds.

  • If you’re behind on your rent, mortgage, or utilities because of COVID-19, you might be eligible for assistance through Buncombe County.
  • If eligible, you may be able to get up to 18 months of help.
  • To find out if you meet eligibility requirements, call 828-250-5500.
  • Read more about the additional financial assistance 

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency has a New Homeowner’s Assistance Fund.

  • If you’re behind on your mortgage or your mortgage is in forbearance because of COVID-19, you may be able to get assistance through the NC Housing Finance Agency’s NC Homeowner’s Assistance Fund. You could be eligible if you’re current with your mortgage payments but are at risk of not being able to make future payments.
  • To be eligible, your home must be in North Carolina and must be your primary residence.
  • You also must be experiencing financial hardship due to job/business loss or closure, reduction in hours or pay, difficulty obtaining new employment, death of co-borrower/spouse, or have increased expenses due to COVID-19.  
  • You could receive up to $40,000 in assistance that will not need to be repaid and assistance can get you caught your mortgage payment, homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance, mortgage insurance, homeowner’s association fees/dues or delinquent property taxes to prevent foreclosure.
  • You can apply to online at the NCHAF website or you can call 1-855-696-2423 for assistance from NCHAF.

Update: 9/2/21: Rental and Utility Assistance are Available as Eviction Moratorium Ends

The Supreme Court ended the CDC’s eviction moratorium, but there are rental assistance options still available in WNC.

What you need to know:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court ended the CDC eviction moratorium on August 27, 2021, effective immediately.
  • Even if COVID-19 has economically impacted you, this means you could be evicted from your rental if you are behind on rent and cannot get caught up.
  • Find out more about the decision.

What should you do if you’re behind on your rent and/or about to be evicted?

  • Look for rental assistance. Though the process is slow, there are multiple rental assistance options in our area that still have a lot of money available. Rental assistance and utility assistance could help you get caught up on rent and utilities and help you stay in your home (see more below for rental assistance options).
  • Get legal help. Pisgah Legal Services may be able to provide free legal advice regarding eviction if you don’t have money to pay a lawyer. Find out more about Pisgah Legal Services and apply for help.
  • Make sure to communicate with your landlord about what’s going on.

What Rental Assistance and Utility Assistance Options are Available?

  • For rental assistance and utility assistance options, you can call 2-1-1 or visit their website. To find options in your area on 2-1-1’s website, type in your location and type “rental assistance” in the search box. 

Update: 8/23/21 - New Mortgage Relief Options for Struggling Homeowners

FHA, USDA, and the VA offer more relief options to those economically impacted by COVID-19

What you need to know:

  • FHA, USDA, and VA backed mortgages have new options if your household was or still is financially impacted by COVID-19.
  • Each agency is offering various options, so it’s important you contact your mortgage servicer about what’s available for your situation.
  • It’s also important that you follow any application and enrollment instructions from your mortgage servicer to officially begin one of the plans listed below.

Want some help figuring out your mortgage repayment options? Sign up for Foreclosure Prevention Counseling at OnTrack.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is offering the following options to its borrowers:

  • If you cannot resume your monthly mortgage payment due to decreased household income, you may be offered a decrease in your principal and interest payment of up to 25%. In addition, your mortgage would be extended to a 30-year loan again to make up for what you are behind on.
  • If you can resume your monthly mortgage payment as it is now, but you are behind due to the pandemic temporarily impacting your income, you may be eligible for a COVID-19 Recovery Standalone Partial Claim. With this option, you would resume your current mortgage payment, but FHA will offer you a zero % interest, partial claim where the amount you are behind on is paid later. You’d pay this back when your mortgage insurance, your mortgage ends, such as you sell your home or refinance the home.
  • Contact your mortgage servicer for more details.

The USDA is offering the following options to its borrowers:

  • With the USDA COVID-19 Special Relief Measure, your USDA mortgage could get a 20% decrease to your principal and interest payment if you are still financially impacted by COVID-19.
  • You could also get an interest rate reduction, an extension of your loan years, and a mortgage recover advance, which would help cover past due mortgage payments and any costs related to the past due payments.
  • USDA may offer you one or multiple of these options depending on financial situation.
  • Contact your mortgage servicer for more details.

The VA is offering the following options to its borrowers:

  • The COVID-19 Refund Modification offers multiple options for those who were or still are impacted financially by COVID-19. These options can help you achieve a 20% decrease on the principal and interest portion of your mortgage payment.
  • There is a possibility that the decrease in payment could be higher, and there are options to bring your past due payments up to date with the 0% interest, COVID-19 Refund option. The VA helps you bring your loan current.
  • You may also can lower your monthly mortgage payment by adding an additional 10 years to your mortgage. This would mean you’d pay on your loan for up to 40 years.
  • Contact your mortgage servicer for more details.

Mortgages backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae also offer options to homeowners financially impacted by COVID-19

  • If you have a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage and you’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19, you could have several options to change your mortgage.
  • You may be able to defer up to 18 months of missed mortgage payments into a non-interest-bearing balloon. You wouldn’t have to repay the balloon until you sell or refinance your property.
  • If you need more significant help because your income is still being impacted by the pandemic, you could get up to a 20% decrease in your monthly mortgage payments.
  • With a Flex Modification, you would have past due amounts added back into the loan (capitalized), your mortgage might be extended to 40 years, and in certain cases, your interest rate may be lowered.
  • Contact your mortgage servicer for more details.

Read the White House Press Release

Update: 12/17/20 - Utility Assistance

Utility Assistance and Help During COVID-19

Find Local Resources through 2-1-1 and Find an Advocate

  • United Way hosts a free information and referral service through their 2-1-1 program. If you need financial assistance to pay utilities, they can direct you to the best local agency to help. If you have an (828) area code, simply dial 211 on your phone to be connected to a representative that can assist you or visit the 211 website here
  • If you were denied the option for a payment plan with a utility provider, contact the NC Utilities Commission at 1-866-380-9816. The NC Utilities Commission can advocate for a payment plan with your utility company.

Find Internet in Your Area

The North Carolina Department of Information Technology has compiled a list of new and existing free or affordable service offerings statewide here. To find out what service providers are available in your area and a list of their services, use their Interactive Map:

  • Enter your home street address in the address field and click the magnifying glass.
  • After clicking search, directly under the search box, a list of providers in your area will appear. You can contact these companies to get internet set up if you don’t have it.
  • To see what free or low-cost services are provided by those companies, scroll through the list of company names at the bottom of the page until you find the company that services your area.   

Update: 8/3/20 – Dwindling Protections for Renters

Pay Rent on Time if You Are Able

  • Because protections for renters are so few, it’s important to pay rent on time if at all possible.
  • If you can’t afford to pay your rent in full, talk to your landlord and explain the situation. Many landlords are willing to work with tenants to provide flexibility.
  • If your landlord attempts to evict you or you are worried that you will not be able to pay your rent, call Pisgah Legal Services at (828) 253-0406.
  • Additionally, you can call OR text the CARES Act Eviction Information Line at 1-919-590-9165 as they may be able to advise you on working out a payment plan with your landlord or help those who need in-court representation.
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