If you already own your home, you also have options for getting financial assistance to make mortgage payments when times get tough, reduce your monthly payment and interest rate, and help pay for utility costs. Here are some housing assistance programs for people who already own their homes.
Refinancing: When you refinance your mortgage, you get rid of your current mortgage and get a brand new one that often comes with a new balance, a lower interest rate, and a lower monthly payment. Refinancing can be a great way for any homeowner, whether you are low income or not, to save money on their mortgage.
You may be worried that home refinancing can damage your credit score. But the good news is that your credit score may go down temporarily, but it usually bounces back within a few months.
Plus, you may even be able to raise your credit score if you’re able to use the extra money you would have put into your mortgage payment to make payments on other debts, like credit cards, auto loans, personal loans, and student loans.
What’s more, you don’t always have to have a solid credit score to refinance. There are many mortgage lenders who offer refinancing options for those with poor credit. You can even refinance a home loan online with certain lenders.
LIHEAP: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is one of a few government-funded energy assistance programs that helps people pay for heating and/or cooling costs. You can also get help weatherizing your home to make it more energy-efficient, which, in turn, can be more cost-effective, too.
The LIHEAP program can help families save money every month that could go toward food, housing costs, debt payments, and savings goals. Every state runs their own energy payment assistance program, funded by LIHEAP money from the U.S. government. Contact your local LIHEAP office to find out if you qualify and to apply.
Energy Efficient Mortgage Program: Like LIHEAP, the EEM program reduces the costs of utilities. However, this program focuses on providing funds to help homeowners make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes, thus reducing energy costs.
You can have your home evaluated through a Home Energy Assessment, and this assessment can determine:
- If your home qualifies,
- How much you may be able to save with upgrades, and
- The amount you would need to make the upgrades.
Homeowner Assistance Fund: The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) is a homeowner relief program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program gave money to states, U.S. territories, and tribes so they could provide citizens help with mortgage and homeowners’ insurance payments, utility payments, and other related purposes.
Its main goal was to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and reduce impending rates of homelessness due to unemployment and other impacts of COVID-19. Reach out to your local HUD or public housing office to find out what programs your state has and whether you qualify.