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Tennessee HAF Program Highlighted in the Treasury’s Article on Promising Practices

In mid-April, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released an article on its websitePromising Practices for HAF Programs. In the article, the Treasury focused on two topics—Helping Homeowners Determine Their Best Options and Strategic Outreach—and listed early promising practices the Treasury has witnessed among several states.

Helping Homeowners Determine Their Best Options

Under the first topic, the Treasury reiterates the importance of involving housing counseling services in Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) implementations. One of three state programs listed by the Treasury as a promising practice was the state of Tennessee. The state’s program, known as TNHAF, uses the state’s network of HUD-certified counselors for early intervention to review loss mitigation options with homeowners.

TNHAF has two objectives in their use of counselors. First, counselors educate homeowners about funding programs and loss mitigation options beyond the HAF program. Second, counselors prepare homeowners for the time when assistance ends. The HAF assistance is temporary in nature and therefore it is important to set homeowners up for success in the long run.

In the recent HAF webinar hosted by ProLink Solutions on April 20, Denise Hutchinson, Assistant Director of Mortgage Assistance and Compliance with Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), gave an example of how they provided a homeowner with a sustainable, long-term solution, combining both HAF assistance and a loss mitigation solution presented by the homeowner’s servicer.

In addition, THDA has also deployed a homeowner education video and requires homeowners to watch it as part of their HAF application process. The video educates homeowners on loss mitigation options as well as regular and crisis budgeting. Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Strategic Outreach

Under the topic of strategic outreach, the Treasury reiterates the importance of reaching low-income and socially disadvantaged homeowners in HAF implementations. TNHAF was again highlighted as one of three promising state programs. TNHAF program managers can monitor the impact of HAF dollars in real-time, using the executive dashboard built into ProLink+, a HAF deployment technology solution provided by ProLink Solutions. The access to real-time data and analytics enables THDA to assess the impact of the program particularly in high-need areas and to refine their HAF deployment strategy on an ongoing basis.

You can learn more about ProLink+ by clicking here.

 

The Importance of Running a Pilot Program for Your State HAF Plan

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has begun approving plans for states and territories to use their shares of funding. States are  now opening their Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) programs now as a result of the Treasury approving state HAF plans. As of today, the Treasury has approved HAF plans for a total of 23 states. These states have gone live with their full programs; however, several states are still in the pilot phase and expected to go live soon. You can find a map showing the current progress of state HAF plans here on NCSHA’s website.

Tennessee recently went live with its full program on January 10 alongside a number of other states. The state was allocated with $168M in funding by the Treasury, and on June 9, 2021 Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) chose ProLink+ as the deployment platform. With the very first homeowner being funded on September 20, it took 103 days from contract signing to fund deployment. ProLink is also playing a leading role in HAF implementation for THDA, including coordination with service providers as well as assisting in homeowner education. If you are a homeowner living in Tennessee and in need of assistance, please visit the THDA website for more information.

When navigating through a pilot program, you’re able to address unanticipated issues and are better equipped to go live afterwards. Tennessee is one of the first states in the nation to have executed a pilot program. Going through a pilot helped THDA address a few challenges they faced, including mortgage servicer coordination and program outreach to the public. When asked what motivated them to move so quickly with their pilot program, Denise Hutchinson, Assistant Director of Mortgage Assistance and Compliance at THDA, said “We handled our other programs in-house, software included. This was going to be new for us, so we felt like we needed that pilot in order to work out the kinks. It has been extremely beneficial.”

Highlights from ProLink Technology Live 2021

This year, ProLink Solutions held an all-virtual conference, ProLink Technology Live 2021. The conference featured a number of guest speakers from all areas of the affordable housing industry and was split into two separate tracks, one for ProLinkHFA (multi-family) and one for ProLink+ (single-family). If you participated in the event, you can use this link to access the Attendee Hub for up to 90 days after the end of the event.

Keynote – Washington Update

We started the conference with a special keynote from Jennifer Schwartz,  the Director of Tax and Housing Advocacy at the National Council of State and Housing Agencies (NCSHA). Jennifer provided an update on Washington, and also touched up on a variety of topics including:

  • Using the Housing Credit to finance housing for extremely low-income households
  • Preserving housing credit properties
  • HUD programs and the Home Investments Partnership Program

8823 Compliance Panel

Kelly Encinias, the Customer Adoption Manager at ProLink, was joined by several speakers for a panel discussion on 8823 compliance and asked a number of questions, including:

  • Are there financial implications for agencies if a property fails to meet compliance?
  • What are some challenges that have been reported with maintaining compliance from property managers to HFAs?
  • Has compliance gotten more complicated over the years?

During this panel, Josh Brown, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at E&A Team, addressed various challenges that are inherent in compliance and affordable housing programs. “Generally, the nature of program compliance is that it continues to increase in complexity, and it’s constantly evolving. Programs will also compete and conflict with each other, adding to that complexity”.

ProLink+ What’s New and HAF Lessons Learned Panel

Bri Kreuter, the Executive Vice President at ProLink, was joined by several panelists to discuss the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) and lessons learned during the implementation of their HAF programs in Tennessee and Arkansas. Ro Arrington of Arkansas Development Finance Authority spoke passionately on the subject: “Let’s talk about people that are losing sleep at night because they are worried about losing their homes. And I’m fool enough to think that what we are doing here makes a big, big difference. And if we don’t have a sense of urgency, think about what one day, one week, and one month means for the people who we’re trying to get the money out.”

What to Expect from ProLink in the Coming Year

In 2022, ProLink plans to host a brand-new webinar series beginning in January. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest news from ProLink as well as news about the affordable housing industry.

Insight into the U.S. Treasury Update for Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) Allocation

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2021 and has been last updated on November 3, 2021 for accuracy.

Last week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a new deadline for a Tribe, Tribally Designated Housing Entity (TDHE), or the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to submit a notice of funds request to be extended to November 15, 2021.

For state agencies, in August the Treasury announced a new deadline of August 20th by which they were required to submit the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) plan or notify the Treasury of the date they planned to submit a completed plan. The Treasury has provided an online portal where state agencies can upload their plans.

This notice is the latest of the series of HAF Plan submission deadline extensions the Treasury has allowed since June. In their late July announcement, the Treasury indicated that the deadline will be extended beyond July 31st but left it open-ended. With this latest update, state agencies are closing all loose ends on their HAF plans and preparing for the complete plan submissions. As noted by the Treasury, state agencies can choose not to submit the plan but notify the Treasury the date by which their plans will be submitted.

State agencies are busy analyzing available emergency fund deployment software solutions, and ancillary services from call service providers, loan processors, underwriters, and file audit and compliance processors. ProLink offers all services required for many states and we have been providing national webinars to apprise states of the software and services we can provide to assist in the administration of their HAF plans.

 

About the Homeowner Assistance Fund

The Homeowner Assistance Fund provides $9.961 billion in assistance nationally related to mortgages and housing, including:

  • A minimum of $50 million for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico
  • $498 million for Tribes or Tribally designated housing entities and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
  • $30 million for the territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

You can read more about it on the U.S. Treasury website.

Easy-to-Sign Hardship Affidavit with DocuSign

The DocuSign eSignature integration into ProLink+ has made the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) application process even easier for the homeowners. For agencies, it minimizes risk for fraud where applicants might misrepresent their personal information.

As the last step before submitting the application, each applicant is required to digitally sign the Hardship Affidavit form. Once the form is signed by all parties, the application is submitted to the agency. Agency staff then processes the submitted application in the back-office system, which ultimately leads to providing mortgage payments to the loan servicer, if the application meets all required funding criteria.

We invite you to watch our video about this exciting DocuSign integration below:

Live Demo

We are also hosting a webinar via Zoom on August 18 at 1PM ET, where we will be performing a live demo of ProLink+. Come by and see what ProLink+ can do for you in managing your HAF program.

Click here to sign up for our webinar on August 18 and reserve your spot today!

ProLink+ Integrated with DocuSign and Amazon QuickSight

We’re pleased to announce that our Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) deployment solution, ProLink+, has received some exciting new integrations with DocuSign and Amazon QuickSight. DocuSign eSignature enhances and simplifies the experience for homeowners applying for assistance, while Amazon QuickSight provides agency staff with a real-time, customizable analytical dashboard.

We invite you to watch our video about these changes, which was featured this year in NCSHA’s Housing Credit Connect 2021, below:

Live Demo

We are also hosting a webinar via Zoom on July 14 at 1PM ET, where we will be performing a live demo of ProLink+. Come by and see what ProLink+ can do for you in managing your HAF program.

Click here to sign up for our webinar on July 14 and reserve your spot today!