TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Federal relief programs helped almost 2 million Americans keep their homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Of the millions helped, hundreds of thousands were Floridians.

HUD announced Wednesday that the Federal Housing Administration used its pandemic relief programs to help residents keep their homes and stay home while “doing so was often a matter of life and death.”

In total, the FHA helped 1.845 million mortgage holders pause or reduce their payments due to the pandemic, and 1.2 million were able to resume paying after doing so. More specifically, HUD said 165,800 Florida households received assistance through forbearance and 108,800 received home retention support, as of Dec. 31, 2022.

“We are committed to ensuring that no FHA borrower experiences foreclosure unnecessarily,” Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon said, speaking about the program generally. “FHA’s COVID-19 forbearances and streamlined COVID-19 loss mitigation options have successfully helped millions of struggling borrowers in the last two fiscal years alone. Our action today lets us capitalize on what we have learned through the pandemic to continue helping borrowers avoid foreclosure, regardless of the nature of their hardship.”

Along with the data released, FHA said they would extend the “COVID-19 toolkit” to ensure “all eligible borrowers who are struggling to avoid foreclosure” receive assistance, “regardless of the reason for their hardship.” The programs will remain available for the next 18 months, according to officials.

The programs involved will see several changes to meet this goal, including increases to interest-free arrearages limits for borrowers.

“Although the pandemic has ended, the economic effects will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future,” HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said. “These impactful and effective foreclosure prevention tools will help struggling borrowers find the right option to help them get back on their feet and keep them in their homes. These tools have been so successful already, which is why FHA worked to enhance them further and include more borrowers.”