HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY
Homeowner's Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program; No Longer in a Period of High Unemployment
[51 Pa.B. 7589]
[Saturday, December 4, 2021]
On October 22, 2021, it was announced by the Department of Labor and Industry (Department) that the Commonwealth's seasonably adjusted unemployment rate for September 2021 was 6.2%. It was previously announced by the Department that the August 2021 unemployment rate was 6.4% and that the July 2021 rate was 6.5%. Thus the average unemployment rate for the 3-month period of July, August and September 2021 was 6.4%.
Section 405-C(f.1) of the Housing Finance Agency Law (35 P.S. § 1680.405c) provides as follows:
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(f.1) The twenty-four (24) month limit on assistance available under this act established in subsection (f) and referenced in sections 401-C(a)(5), 403-C(f) and 404-C(a)(5) and (12) shall increase to thirty-six (36) months if during the month the homeowner submits an application for assistance the average rate of total unemployment in the Commonwealth, as seasonally adjusted, for the period consisting of the most recent three (3) months for which such data for the Commonwealth is published before the close of such month equals or exceeds six and one-half (6.5) percent.
Similarly, Section 406-C(2.1) provides as follows:
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(2.1) The forty (40) percent ratio established under paragraphs (1) and (2) shall be reduced to thirty-five (35) percent if during the month the homeowner submits an application for assistance the average rate of total unemployment in the Commonwealth, as seasonally adjusted, for the period consisting of the most recent three (3) months for which such data for the Commonwealth is published before the close of such month equals or exceeds six and one-half (6.5) percent.
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In furtherance of the statutory provisions, the Housing Finance Agency's (Agency) published Guidelines for the Homeowner's Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (Program) (12 Pa. Code §§ 31.201—31.211 (relating to policy statement of Homeowner's Emergency Assistance Program)) provide in 12 Pa. Code § 31.210 (relating to periods of high unemployment) as follows:
§ 31.210. Periods of high unemployment.
(a) Months of assistance available. The 24 month limit on mortgage assistance available under § 31.203(d), and the 24 month periods referred to in §§ 31.202(d)(1), 31.203(a)(3)(ii), 31.204(c)(2) and 31.206(a) and (d)(2) shall increase to 36 months if during the month the homeowner submits an application for assistance the Agency has determined that a period of high unemployment exists.
(b) Housing expense formula. The 40% ratio referred to in §§ 31.204(c) and (e) and 31.205(c)(3) (relating to agency review; and financial hardship due to circumstances beyond the homeowner's control) shall be reduced to 35% if during the month the homeowner submits an application for assistance the Agency has determined that a period of high unemployment exists.
(c) Definition; declaration. There shall be a ''period of high unemployment'' if the average rate of unemployment in this Commonwealth equals or exceeds 6.5%. This determination will be made by the Agency on a monthly basis based upon seasonably adjusted unemployment figures for the most recent 3 months for which the data for this Commonwealth is published. If the Agency determines that a period of high unemployment exists, the Agency will immediately publish a notice to that effect in the Pennsylvania Bulletin consistent with this section.
On June 27, 2020, the Agency published a notice at 50 Pa.B. 3187 (June 27, 2020) announcing that a Period of High Unemployment existed and that the 36-month and 35% figures would be applicable to applications received during the month of May 2020. The notice also indicated that the Agency would continue to monitor unemployment figures on a monthly basis and if the 3-month calculation would produce an average result of less than 6.5% the Agency would publish a new notice to inform the public that the Commonwealth is no longer in a period of high unemployment and that the 36-month and 35% figures are changed back to 24 months and 40%, respectively.
As indicated previously, the average unemployment rate for the 3-month period of July, August and September 2021 was 6.4%. Consequently, the 24 month and 40% provisions will be applicable to applications received on or after October 1, 2021.
ROBIN L. WIESSMANN,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 21-2016. Filed for public inspection December 3, 2021, 9:00 a.m.]
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