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Maine homeowners could be eligible for COVID relief funds under newly expanded program

More Maine homeowners are eligible for benefits under a pandemic-era program that MaineHousing relaunched Tuesday.

Applications are open again for the Maine Homeowner Assistance Program, which is designed to help households that have suffered a financial loss during the pandemic.

The program will cover late mortgage payments, overdue heating or utility bills and other housing costs. It may also cover up to three months of future mortgage payments for some eligible homeowners to "ensure housing stability," MaineHousing said.

Dan Brennan, MaineHousing's executive director, said eligible households can now receive up to $50,000 in benefits, a larger amount than when the program first launched two years ago.

"People who were impacted by COVID and have trouble with their mortgage ... we want to keep them stable in their homes," he said.

Expanding the program to include households that earn up to 150% of the local area median income will reach additional people who aren't eligible for other MaineHousing programs, such as heating assistance, the agency said.

Homeowners can apply online using a new portal. MaineHousing is encouraging any households that may have been previously denied benefits to reapply.

Maine can operate the program through Sept. 2025, or until federal funds run out.

The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection previously ran the homeowner assistance program when it first launched in March 2021. The bureau had approved roughly $5.2 million in homeowner assistance benefits for 525 Maine households by the end of 2022, according to data provided by MaineHousing.