Thomas,Street,,In,Providence,,Rhode,Island.

Homes line Thomas Street in Providence.

(The Center Square) – A new Rhode Island program aims to help residents remain in their homes, Gov. Dan McKee said.

The governor announced the Homeowner Assistance Fund in a news release that will provide financial assistance to homeowners to help make late mortgage payments and cover other housing-related expenses in an effort to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am incredibly proud to launch this program and provide Rhode Islanders who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 with the support they need,” McKee said in the release. “Another example of our state providing critical support directly to our residents, these resources help families in our state to stay in their homes and potentially prevents others from experiencing homelessness.”

Joining the governor making the announcement were Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos; Senator Jack Reed, D-2; Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-1; Congressman Jim Langevin, D-2; Congressman David N. Cicilline, D-1; Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, D-Warwick; Senate President Dominic Ruggeriom D-North Providence; and Carol Ventuera, executive director of RIHousing.

The program will provide $50 million in funding, according to the release, that will help residents avoid mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, and loss of utilities or home energy services. The program is available statewide to help residents get current on their bills.

According to the release, the program was spearheaded by Reed with the development of a $10 billion federal Homeowner Assistance Fund. The package was approved under last spring’s coronavirus stimulus package. The state is set to receive $50 million from that fund.

“I created this program to help prevent people from losing their homes,” Reed said in the release. “The application window is now open and I encourage Rhode Island homeowners experiencing financial hardship to apply as soon as possible.”

Reed said the program hopes to get funding “out the door quickly” and is “imperative if we want to help families, neighborhoods, and communities.”

Rhode Island’s program, according to the release, has been approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury, and RIHousing is working to make the funds available to residents who are in need. Applicants can receive up to two years of assistance, but not more than $50,000 annually.

Under the program, expenses that can be paid include mortgage arrears, monthly mortgage payments, principal reduction, property taxes, homeowner association fees, and condo fees. Residents who qualify for mortgage assistance, or help with foreclosure liens, may also receive help for utilities, flood or mortgage insurance, or other mortgage-related expenses.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on homeowners, so my delegation colleagues and I fought hard to secure funding for the Homeowner Assistance Fund, ensuring Rhode Islanders are able to afford their mortgage payments and stay in their homes,” Langevin said in the release.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.