With summer winding down, we approach the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s Fall Forum. This conference, taking place October 11-13 at MetroTech in Oklahoma City, will bring together experts from a variety of fields to visit attendees on ways to improve the lives of children and families in Oklahoma through policy work.

This year’s theme will be “The Economy Our Children Deserve”. We will discuss many issues facing Oklahomans struggling to make ends meet. We hope to shape a legislative agenda that will be presented to policy makers at the local, state and federal levels and that will offer workable solutions in 2023.

To attend the Fall Forum and help us create “The Economy Our Kids Deserve”, you can register on our website at https://oica.org under “Events”.

We will examine issues related to home ownership and affordability of rents. Through our research, we discovered a program to help qualifying Oklahomans who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Oklahoma Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) is available through the American Rescue Plan Act. HAF is providing financial assistance to homeowners who have experienced significant financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Eligible expenses that HAF funds can cover include mortgage reinstatement, principal reduction, payment of a partial claim or deferral, overdue property taxes, home insurance restoration, and Homeowners association dues outstanding.

To be eligible, applicants can earn up to $79,900 per year for a single family and must meet all of the following criteria:

• Oklahoma homeowners must occupy the property as their primary residence.

• Owners must have experienced financial hardship qualifying as COVID-19 after January 21, 2020.

• Homeowners must be 30 days in arrears, in a forbearance plan, or enter or complete a loan modification, including a partial claim or deferred mortgage amount, to mitigate COVID-related delinquency.

Homeowners who made a loan modification due to a COVID-related default may be eligible to receive a principal reduction. They must be citizens of the United States or those who can show proof of a green card. Owners who are behind on eligible expenses, including:

• Reinstatement of outstanding mortgage,

• Mortgage payment assistance for reinstated owners,

• Overdue property tax,

• Reinstatement of canceled home insurance and/or outstanding homeowners association dues.

• Be equal to or less than 100% of the median income of the zone or socially disadvantaged owners and be equal to or less than 150% of the median income of the zone.

Eligible mortgage loans must be guaranteed by a government or government-sponsored entity instrument or funded by a non-profit organization, bank, credit union or mortgage company that adheres to widely accepted practices in mortgage lending and mortgage servicing overseen by the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau or a mortgage financed by the builder or manufactured home retail financing entity. Excluded mortgages include seller-financed transactions, lease-to-own transactions and family-financed transactions.

For Oklahoma residents, socially disadvantaged homeowners may qualify if they are at 150% or less of the region’s median income; it ranges from $79,900 for a family of one to $109,800 for a family of four. That can reach $144,950 for a family of eight. Socially disadvantaged indicators include residents of a Native American reservation, which would comprise much of the state based on recent court rulings.

This also includes people who live in a persistent poverty county, which is any county where 20% or more of the population has lived in poverty for the past 30 years, as measured by the last three censuses. ten years. These counties include Adair, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Greer, Harmon, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, McCurtain, Okfuskee, Payne, Pushmataha, Seminole, Sequoyah and Tillman.

If you think you qualify, check with your lender who holds your mortgage and go to https://www.ohfa.org/haf/ to review and submit the request.

Joe Dorman is the CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. To reach him, call 405-833-1117 or email [email protected]