COVID-19 Updates at MaineHousing


The health and safety of our employees, their families and friends, and our partners and colleagues is foremost in our minds as we all respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

MaineHousing is open for business and will remain open. Our building, however, is closed to the public.

Thousands of Maine households rely on our distribution of millions of dollars in assistance and we need to be here for them. The work we do is critical to helping people through this crisis, and will become more so as this pandemic continues. We continue to carefully monitor the recommendations issued by the Governor’s office and Maine CDC and adjust our work accordingly.

We want you to know how these adjustments and changes might affect your work with us. Our business continuity plan is in place to ensure that all critical programs and services remain operational. Below you will find a synopsis of our plans by department. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 


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Asset Management:

We are making monthly rental assistance payments. These are payments made for Section 8 rental assistance subsidy.

We are continuing with contract renewals. Every property that receives Section 8 rental assistance is under a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract. HAP contracts have fixed terms, so when the contract nears the end of the term, it needs to be renewed. 

We will continue rent increases as needed. Each HAP contract has a provision for annual rent increases, and most have an “operating cost adjustment factor” (OCAF) applied to the rents annually. We apply the OCAF to the rents to calculate new rent levels going forward.

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Development:

Our Development Department continues to operate at typical capacity. Underwriters continue to move through the projects in our pipeline. Closings can be held virtually. Construction Analyst inspections may be scheduled after hours or on weekends when construction workers are not on site. Monthly requisition and progress meetings can also be held virtually.  

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Energy and Housing Services Department:

We are continuing to issue weekly HEAP payments. Partner agency audits and program inspections are currently cancelled, postponed, or done through a desk review.

The Energy and Housing Services Department has taken on our new COVID-19 Rent Relief program. For more information about that program, please click here.

 

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Homeless Initiatives:

MaineHousing continues to work with several partners across Maine to launch Wellness Centers, which are extensions of local homeless shelters to help support social distancing and contain the spread of COVID-19 among people who are homeless. Local homeless shelters, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the University of Maine System, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency have united to help local communities create these temporary homeless shelters. 

So far, MaineHousing has grant agreements for over $1,750,000 in Wellness Center grants to Preble Street in Portland, the Aroostook County Action Program in Presque Isle, and Community Concepts in Lewiston for centers in these communities. We are currently working with other Maine cities on similar efforts.

MaineHousing also launched a grant program for homeless shelters to cover operating expenses due to COVID-19. We have funded 14 shelters through 17 grants shelters so far, totaling nearly $341,000. We are proud to join both the John T. Gorman Foundation and the Maine Community Foundation to help support this work across Maine. Find information about our 2020 COVID-19 Homeless Provider Grant here. 

We are also partnering with DHHS to secure hotel/motel rooms in various locations in Maine to help those experiencing homelessness and others who have tested positive for COVID-19, are waiting for test results, or have been exposed to COVID-19 and must isolate themselves.

MaineHousing staff worked with Maine Craft Distilling to coordinate the distillery’s first round of hand sanitizer to homeless shelters across the state. Thank you to David Swardlick for his help and his willingness to deliver the hand sanitizer to shelters in need!

We will continue to issue quarterly shelter payments; current shelter monitoring procedures are suspended for the time being.

Meetings with business partners will continue and be conducted via teleconferencing, and call-in information will be provided prior to the meeting. Please be sure to check the Maine Homeless Planning website for Maine Continuum of Care (CoC) and Statewide Homeless Council meeting updates.

We will continue to staff the HMIS Help Desk and the ESHAP Help Desk to answer questions and provide technical assistance. There may be times when the Homeless Initiatives Department has limited staffing levels, but we are committed to responding as quickly as possible. 

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Homeownership:

The surge of loan activity that kicked off 2020 has shown surprising resilience even as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic became evident in February.

Despite the effects worsening in March, our Year to Date Loan Purchases were up approximately 13% compared to 2019. There was a notable 53.4% increase in our Loan Reservation Pipeline, equating to a remarkable increase of over $18 million in loan value from March of last year.

If you are a potential homebuyer seeking program information, please visit our website or contact one of MaineHousing’s lender partners from this list. Potential homebuyers can also visit the hoMEworks website for a current schedule of classes, or look into a homebuyer education online course offered by eHomeAmerica

Lender partners should contact their assigned Mortgage Lending Officer via email or visit the Lender Online bulletin board for further updates and any announcement of changes to our current operations.

If you have a MaineHousing First Home Loan and are experiencing a financial hardship and difficulties making your  payment due to COVID-19 we are here to help. Read about your options here.

MaineHousing has quickly adapted to the changes brought on by the pandemic, and 100% of the Homeownership staff work remotely. We continue to keep our program partners informed and to assure them that the First Home Loan program continues to be fully operational.

 

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Housing Choice Vouchers:

Waivers have been implements for several HCV items. A list of all waivers can be found here
 
Move-in inspections are conducted when a voucher recipient finds an apartment and a landlord willing to participate in our Housing Choice Voucher program. Those inspections will continue for units that are vacant.

Voucher expiration dates will be relaxed, recognizing the increased difficulty of finding housing. Please contact us if you need an extension on your voucher.

If you have a voucher through MaineHousing and have lost your job or have had a decrease in your income, please contact us at 207-624-5789 so we can discuss modifying your contribution to your rent.

Voucher briefings, which are held with voucher recipients when they receive a voucher, will continue over the phone.

Our Family Self-Sufficiency program, ReStart, will continue to operate remotely and will meet with clients over the phone.

It is important to keep people sheltered during this pandemic. We ask that landlords work with their tenants to resolve any lease violations so that people remain housed.

COVID Related Sites & Resources

 

Residents

 

Developers, Property Managers & Owners

 

Supportive Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development toolkits for Continuum of Care (COC) Agencies. 

Preventing & Managing the Spread of Infectious Disease:


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353 Water Street, Augusta ME 04330
(800) 452-4668 \ (207) 626-4600
Fax (207) 626-4678 \ Maine Relay 711