Eugene Young often thinks of a family that suffered devastating loss and financial turmoil during the coronavirus pandemic.
“A wife lost her husband due to COVID and that impacts her monthly mortgage and her ability to pay,’’ said Young, director of the Delaware State Housing Authority.
His office now has a program to help that woman and others like her avoid losing their home.
It’s the Delaware Mortgage Relief Program, which has a $50 million pool of federal funds that can provide grants of up to $40,000 to homeowners with pandemic-related monetary hardship. That’s enough to assist at least 1,250 families.
The money can be used to pay the following delinquencies: mortgage, property tax, chattel loan, land lease, water and sewer utilities, homeowner or condominium association fees, and homeowner insurance.
The money is available to homeowners, borrowers, or spouses who have experienced a pandemic-related financial hardship, such as lost income or increased expenses, since Jan. 21, 2020. Applicants must own the home and use it as their primary residence.
To qualify in New Castle County, for example, a single person can have a salary of up to $110,700. A family of four can earn up to $158,100.
Young said the goal advances the mission of his agency: keeping people in their homes and out of foreclosure. He said the need is great for people who have lost their jobs or had a breadwinner pass away or become impaired for a lengthy period because of the coronavirus.
He said that reality became evidence once the program launched Wednesday. “We’ve had 100 applications just since yesterday,” Young said. “Just to use the 24-hour time frame as a snapshot, that’s kind of where we are.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons called the program a “needed lifeline” that can “help bring stability to middle-class homeowners.” He cited people who worked in the hotel and restaurant industry when the pandemic struck and stay-at-home orders were issued, or those who had to become caregivers for a child or elderly relative. “I’m glad to see this relief program take effect,’’ the Wilmington Democrat said.
Rachel Stucker, director of the Housing Alliance of Delaware, said it’s critical to keep people harmed by the pandemic in their homes.
“In Delaware, we are having a housing crisis like I’ve never seen before. Homelessness has doubled since 2020. Homelessness among families with children has tripled,’’ Stucker said.
“We have people throughout the state with the money to pay rent and can’t find units to rent. We can’t afford to let people who own their homes — who through no fault of their own have been unable to make mortgage payments and stay on top of their bills – fall into homelessness or into the rental market. There simply isn’t space right now.”
For questions about Delaware’s relief program, call 888-303- 4324 or visit demortgagehelp.com.