Established in February 2022 through a $50 million allocation from Section 3206 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Nebraska Homeowner Assistance Fund (NHAF) was created to provide financial resources to Nebraska homeowners facing financial hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The NHAF, managed by the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA), the state’s Housing Finance Agency, aims to aid homeowners struggling with delinquent mortgages, real estate taxes, homeowner association dues, home and flood insurance premiums, utilities, internet services, and the removal of property liens. Eligible homeowners have the opportunity to receive financial benefits of up to $40,000.
To efficiently run the NHAF program, NIFA entrusted Nelnet with several crucial tasks, including providing white-glove contact center support. Nelnet’s responsibilities encompassed answering inbound calls, making outbound calls when necessary, and responding to homeowner emails. They also assisted homeowners throughout the application process, reviewed incoming NHAF applications in electronic format, and effectively handled application escalations.
Working closely with NIFA, Nelnet established a dedicated phone queue to handle incoming calls in both English and Spanish. Weekly telephony statistics were analyzed with the client to gain insights into call patterns and customer needs, and Nelnet’s team underwent regular quality checks to ensure optimal performance.
Nelnet associates demonstrated a commitment to supporting NIFA and Nebraska’s residents by proactively identifying areas for improvement. Among these initiatives were adjusting staffing levels between processing and contact center teams based on application and call volume, launching outreach efforts such as outbound call campaigns and email blasts to boost application rates, and implementing an escalation and complaint tracking system to enhance customer service. Additionally, Nelnet actively engaged with NIFA’s systems provider to address customer issues, and they successfully transitioned application quality review tasks from NIFA to their team, reducing processing time.
Through September 2023, Nelnet’s associates handled over 32.5K calls and processed more than 7,900 applications. Of these applications, 37.5% were approved, providing more than $38 million in homeowner assistance. This assistance proved invaluable to numerous families, ensuring they could stay in their homes during challenging times.
Nelnet’s corporate ethos revolves around serving others, and the NHAF program aligns perfectly with this mission. It empowers them to show compassion and empathy to those in need, particularly families facing the looming threat of losing their homes and potentially being torn apart. The contributions of Nelnet’s associates to the success of NHAF are truly commendable, and their efforts have left a profound impact on the lives of many.