The HAF statute calls on HAF program administrators to prioritize reaching low-income and socially disadvantaged homeowners. As such, outreach to those communities is a pivotal part of successful HAF implementation. To ensure these homeowners have an opportunity to take advantage of HAF, Treasury required every state’s HAF plan to include a description of its strategy for reaching underserved and disadvantaged communities.
Culturally and Linguistically Competent Partnerships
Culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach is another key way to reach low-income and socially disadvantaged homeowners. In addition to providing program materials in multiple languages, intentional partnerships with trusted community organizations can support outreach efforts to serve harder-to-reach populations. These community organization, which have deep roots and pre-existing relationships in target communities, can help homeowners overcome the technological, cultural, and linguistic barriers to participation in HAF. These partnerships can be especially critical when working with immigrant populations, the elderly, minority groups, and other historically marginalized communities.
The State of New York integrated an analysis of neighborhoods with a high concentration of homeowners who meet the definition of Socially Disadvantaged to identify twenty-two community-based organization representing more than ten languages to engage in specialized outreach activities within the state. These partners have helped promote the HAF program at community meetings and through targeted flyers and educational sessions. The program also integrates additional limited English proficiency (LEP) support from housing counselors and legal services partners. The state's broader marketing campaign also incorporates analysis of LEP and other micro-communities facing homeowner distress and has featured relevant bus stations, print, and social media ads focused in areas where distressed homeowners have historically experienced barriers to accessing assistance.
Data-Driven Outreach Strategies
Robust data systems and reporting can be critical in providing real-time learning opportunities to HAF program administrators and support robust continuous improvement efforts. These data analysis systems can help support iterative adjustments in outreach strategies and build stronger tools for communicating about program progress to key stakeholders within the community.
The State of Rhode Island assessed homeowner need based upon a set of six criteria: housing cost burden, concentration of non-white population, concentration of Hispanic population, foreclosure rate, homeowners earning less than $75,000 per year, and mortgage delinquency. The state reached out to homeowners in communities with the highest need by partnering with local community-based organizations, developing marketing resources, and deploying staff members to low-income and socially disadvantaged communities to assist homeowners, in particular people without access to or experience with the technology needed to apply for assistance.
The State of Tennessee has built into its HAF program capabilities to analyze the impact of HAF programs in real-time, allowing it to monitor the impact of HAF in high-need areas and adjust outreach strategies. As the program progresses, metrics will be reviewed to determine whether additional efforts are needed to reach and serve target populations. If the state determines additional targeted marketing is needed, it will consider hiring a marketing partner that specializes in LEP and minority consumer audiences to ensure the HAF program is reaching borrowers that have historically been underserved by the conventional market.