Editor’s Note: The following story omitted a crucial piece of information regarding the Homeowners Assistance Fund. HAF is a federal program, and only applicants that meet the income guidelines are eligible for its services.
OKMULGEE, Okla. – Mvskoke citizens who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic can apply for homeowners assistance through the Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF). Funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the fund can get Mvskoke homeowners up to date on delinquent mortgage payments, utilities, homeowners insurance, property taxes, and homeowner association fees. On Wednesday, Sept. 13 Angel Alexander, Assistant Manager for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Homeowners Assistance Fund sat down with Mvskoke Radio and explained the details of the HAF, and how to apply.
“Our goal is to help our citizens who have been affected by the pandemic… We always want to help each citizen, if you’re a homeowner there’s something we can assist with.” Alexander said.
The Muscogee (Creek) HAF program is set up to help homeowners experiencing housing-related financial hardship due to the pandemic. Delinquent house payments caused by financial instability, lapsed homeowner’s insurance payments, and even pesky past due homeowner’s association fees can be secured through the assistance.
How to Qualify
To qualify for the assistance, the application must be filled out by a Mvskoke citizen. Alexander explained that even if the house or bills are in a partner’s name who is not a citizen, as long as a relationship can be established with the proper forms, citizens in need should apply.
“For example, if the mortgage and utilities are in the non-citizen’s name, we can assist, but you will need to submit something like a marriage license.” Alexander said.
The citizen must already be in delinquency to apply. This means their mortgage has not been paid, or they have a past due amount on their bills. However, the HAF does not cover potential delinquencies.
“With the mortgage you do have to be at least 30 days delinquent and we don’t pay a prospective amount. We’ve paid cases that were six months behind, but you do have to be delinquent,” Alexander said. They can also help with past-due property taxes from 2021 and 2022.
Assistance is open to all citizen homeowners, regardless of residency. Citizens in need outside of the service area in eastern Oklahoma can apply as well. “Anyone can apply as long as documents are submitted. Any state, anywhere, out of jurisdiction. We’ve already helped many off-of reservation citizens,” Alexander said.
Citizens will need to supply their roll number, and may need to submit other identification.
The application process is streamlined through the MCN’s Camphouse Portal online. Applicants can find a list of all the necessary application documents and the application itself under “housing applications.” Applicants will have to submit necessary paperwork and forms establishing homeownership and the delinquency they have incurred; bills, notices, etc.
Once an application has been submitted, the office allows up to 30 days for the necessary paperwork to follow. From there the process is very thorough. For example, for a delinquent mortgage Alexander explained, “They reach out to the companies to make sure the payment amount issued matches the bill that is submitted. They do a follow up, call and confirm that payments go directly to vendors, payments are not sent to citizens.”
Once this is received, the process can take just a matter of days for citizens to find relief.
“We try to have a batch of payments that go out each week, so if we have the proper documentation we can move that along pretty quickly,” Alexander said. “We do allow 21-30 days for the documents to get sent in. But if you can submit everything and we get moving, usually within that week or two we can get that payment submitted. But that’s with everything submitted. Once we have all the documents we can get you processed pretty quickly.”
Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and, as Alexander explained there is a limit for the amount a citizen can receive. “There is a cap, a max, they can assist with. You can continue to apply and once you reach the cap, they will tell you.” She emphasized that there is room in the fund for citizens to apply more than once until that cap has been reached. Alexander encourages citizens to look into the program.
“We have a lot of caring agents willing to help…The great thing about now calling in is the call volume is not as great as it was when we had the direct assistance and the rental assistance, however we have agents who are willing to answer your call, there’s no long call times or wait times, once you’ve made the call and already submitted the application they get moving pretty quick.” Alexander said.
The HAF program has been instrumental in helping citizens keep their homes.
“We’ve already assisted in thousands of dollars and with people that were pretty much close to that max amount and we’ve been able to save their homes…We’ve had a few people we’ve assisted with bringing their homes out of foreclosure…We’ve saved homes by paying those property taxes.” Alexander said.
For more information about the HAF program and application process citizens can go online to
https://www.mcnhousing.com/haf.html or call 918-549-2890.
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