The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced several new relief provisions on Wednesday that are designed to assist Arkansas homeowners that were impacted by the tornadoes that swept through the region at the end of March.
Relief provisions are available immediately, including a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), as well as mortgages to Native American borrowers guaranteed under the Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee program.
A 90-day extension period is also automatically granted to impacted borrowers of the FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program, which is designed for people at or over the age of 62 who have accessed their equity while remaining in their homes.
“HUD is committed to assisting people in Arkansas rebuild after these devastating storms,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge in a statement. “Today’s announcement builds on unprecedented aid from the Biden-Harris Administration to help our state and local partners get access to the resources they need to restore their communities.”
HUD advises impacted borrowers to contact their loan servicer immediately for assistance. Borrowers with conventional mortgages may also qualify for certain relief through their mortgage holder, according to HUD. Impacted residents can also find more information on the FHA’s disaster relief website.
President Biden issued a major disaster declaration on April 2 for Arkansas’ Cross, Lonoke and Pulaski counties, which also makes Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance available to impacted residents. This assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other assistance for both individuals and businesses.
The relief and extension programs from HUD are effective as of the disaster declaration date.
The relief comes on the heels of last month’s announcement made by HUD regarding an overhaul of its disaster recovery program. The overhaul includes the establishment of two new offices: the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) in the Office of the Deputy Secretary and the Office of Disaster Recovery (ODR) within the Office of Community Planning and Development.
The agency also vowed to add dozens of additional staff to help expedite the establishment of the offices — and a $3.4 billion investment in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.
“These steps will streamline the agency’s disaster recovery and resilience work by increasing coordination, reducing bureaucracy, and increasing capacity to get recovery funding to communities more quickly by facilitating collaborative, transparent disaster recovery planning with communities earlier in the process,” HUD said in Wednesday’s relief announcement.