Orlando, Florida. Paula Pejo has been waiting patiently since June for an update on the Homeowners Assistance Fund application.
East Orlando’s grandmother was paying the bills for furniture and jewelry that she returned and sold on Facebook Marketplace.
As of September 1, she owes more than $11,000 in mortgage payments because the patience extension offered by her bank expired.
“I have paid for this house for nearly three decades and am on the verge of losing it,” Bijou said. “I have family members and a grandson who depend on me to keep a roof over their heads.”
Bijeau has had sleepless nights wondering when to review his mortgage assistance application and issue the money.
Much to her dismay, the application number assigned to her presented three words on HAF computer screens: “Invalid error page”
She had submitted the original application in March and had received a payment for her Duke Energy bill but had not received any payments for her home mortgage.
By September 3, HAF had already issued more than $384 million to 13,200 homeowners.
Despite these impressive numbers, there are hundreds of people across the state who are waiting for an answer about their requests for financial assistance, but this case is a first.
“They’ve never seen anything like this before,” Bijou said. “They know a little of what I know about my situation. When they go ‘Oh oh,’ that’s when I go ‘Sorry, something’s not right.'”
News 6 and Make Ends Meet sent Bijeau’s case to the Deo-HAF team and within 48 hours a senior moderator resolved the issue.
“My order was floating somewhere but no one could see it,” she said. “No one can do anything about it.”
DEO Press Secretary Leigh McGowan issued a statement to News 6 that wrote in part:
“Thank you for contacting the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) regarding the Florida Homeowners Assistance Fund (HAF) program and Ms. Bijeau’s request for assistance. While DEO cannot share details of HAF applicants, we have reached out directly to assist Ms. Bijeau.”
McGowan went on to say that the call to apply is not a guarantee of funds.
“DEO continues to prevent active foreclosures, and now we are going further to expand every available dollar to reach more homeowners – we expect to help homeowners 50% more than we initially thought possible by adjusting forward payments to six months , instead of the last eighteen months.
Peugeot said it was counting on 18 months of financial relief but would appreciate any financial assistance.
“It’s been an arduous journey but I’m sure I’ll get the results I’m looking for,” she said.
For HAF applicants and Florida homeowners who have secured financing, assistance is available through the Homeowners Assistance Fund Customer Help Center at 833-987-8997 Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fri: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. And Saturday: from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m
For Florida homeowners with unmet needs, other resources are available to assist qualified individuals with utility bills and other homeowner expenses through Community Services Block Scholarship (CSBG), and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Low-income household water assistance program (Lihab).
click here Learn more about these valuable resources and how they can help Florida residents make ends meet for their homeowners.
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