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Aleutian Housing Authority opens new round of federal funding for homeowners

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Eligibility criteria is different for each household depending on size as well as location. For example, the income limit for a four-person household is higher in Unalaska than it is in Akutan.

Millions of homeowners skipped mortgage payments during the pandemic, as people lost jobs and reevaluated their finances. In response, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued millions of dollars to states, tribes and U.S. territories to help prevent payment defaults and utility shutoffs.

Now, the Aleutian Housing Authority is giving more than $2 million to homeowners in the Aleutian and Pribilof region through the Department of Treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund.

Kennedy Serr, operations manager for the tribally designated housing organization, said the federal funding is meant to help folks who are struggling with the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These funds allow us to help those members of the community that weren't assisted in the original Emergency Rental Assistance funds that were provided by the U.S. Treasury Department,” Serr said.

Last year, the organization was allotted about $3 million through the federal assistance program, which ended in September. That funding was available for homeowners as well as renters.

Through this new round of funding, Serr said only homeowners are eligible, but the program covers numerous costs.

“If the homeowner submits their application, if they're within the income guidelines and they can prove that they have been adversely affected by COVID-19, then we would set up payments for assisting with their mortgage payments, their home loan payments, utility payments,” she said.

Even things like home repairs could be covered.

The eligibility criteria is different for each household depending on size as well as location. For example, the income limit for a four-person household is higher in Unalaska than it is in Akutan.

While people across the nation are still struggling with paying mortgage fees, utilities, and material costs as the price of fuel rises globally, Serr said homeowners in the Aleutians and Pribilof region face particular challenges, especially when it comes to shipping materials.

“Anything that is needed in our region has to come either by air or by sea, and both of those transportation options can be quite expensive,” she said. “We are very distant from any supply chain. And most of the materials for home repair would come out of Seattle.”

The federal aid won’t go directly to homeowners, but instead to third parties like utility companies or vendors, according to Serr.

She said money will be distributed faster for things like utility payments. But for other costs, like home repairs, the process will take a little longer because staff will have to do more in-depth assessments.

Federal funding through this program could be available for another three years. But, Serr said that depends on how many people apply and how quickly the money is dispersed. She urged homeowners to apply as soon as possible.

Applications for this round of assistance will be accepted through Nov. 30.

Serr said if anyone is unsure if they qualify, to call AHA. She said staff is happy to help with the application process or answer any questions.

For more information or to see if you qualify, visit the organization’s website or call 1-907-563-2146.

Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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