15% of HAF Program applicants deemed “pre-eligible” did not qualify

"We have to keep in mind that the HAF Program is a relief program," said HAF Program Director Audrey Topasña.

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15% of applicants deemed pre-eligible for the Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF) Program did not qualify, according to HAF Program Director Audrey Topasña.

In today’s meeting for the Office of Homelessness Assistance and Poverty Prevention (OHAPP), Topasña stated the HAF Program received over 978 pre-applications between January 31st and February 11th. Of that number, 783 applicants were determined to be pre-eligible.

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Although unqualified pre-eligible applicants met the 3 main requirements, there was an additional set of conditions they did not. For example, to qualify for mortgage assistance, their accounts needed to have past-due bills.

Similarly, to qualify for the program’s utility or property tax assistance, an applicant must be past-due on those criteria.

Many of the 15% who did not qualify were up-to-date on their mortgages, utilities, and/or poverty tax.

Topasña explained, “We have to keep in mind that the HAF Program is a relief program. The purpose is to help these homeowners bring their accounts current. So, initial financial assistance must apply to, at first, past-due accounts.”

Accordingly, Guam Housing and Urban Renewable Authority (GHURA) staff have informed these homeowners of their currently unqualified accounts. If in the future, these homeowners do experience any late payments, they can reapply for the program with updated documentation.

Disbursement

According to Topasña, the first batch of payments was distributed on March 3rd. “Since then,” she said, “we’ve been able to process weekly relief payments.”

As of this week, 105 homeowners have received assistance, totaling up to $535,000. GHURA is estimating to process an additional 80 homeowners for relief assistance next week.

The deadline to submit supporting documents for the first cycle of the HAF program is tomorrow.

A new cycle

GHURA will be opening up a new cycle for the HAF program. The application period will run from April 11 to April 22.

“This is another opportunity for homeowners who were not able to apply . . . or who had not suffered financial hardship due to COVID but now have since we closed the application in February,” said Topasña.

In addition, the Department of Administration (DOA) will be launching a water assistance program at the same time as the second cycle for the HAP Program.

The program will be for homeowners and renters who are considered low-income households. “This will provide eligible households up to $1,000 [for] their past-due water services and those who are in jeopardy of being disconnected.”

Topasña anticipates being able to assist 200 households, given a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant that GHURA has received.

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Althea Engman or as she is referred to as Thea joined the PNC team in August of 2021 as their youngest reporter and after a few months she was given the opportunity to be their weather girl. She currently attends the University of Guam while working at Sorenson. Her hobbies include dancing, creating content for social media, as well modeling on the side, she also is a big dog lover. Before working for PNC, she didn’t think about pursuing a career in journalism or a related field but it has helped her figure out a better career path. She covers a wide variety of news beats with a focus on legislation and lifestyle.