Coronavirus housing help: what’s available for homeowners
Edited to add: We have an updated version of this article with a comprehensive run down of the programs that are available, updated daily on this page: Delay Your Mortgage Payment Without Consequences. Please visit this article instead to get the latest information.
On a practical level, the Coronavirus has already caused many people to lose major parts of their income and investments. Most of us are concerned about cash flow, short term and long term financial health. Will we be able to pay our mortgage? Avoid foreclosure? What’s being done for homeowners around Coronavirus housing help? Here’s a summary of some of the major initiatives so far by both government and industry.
Delaying your mortgage payment
The Housing Policy Council, which is a trade group that represents a large number of lending banks, said they are working on a plan to let homeowners have a temporary break in mortgage payments.
The plan is not available yet but they are trying to have it in place by April 1st. The goal would be for borrowers to be able to delay their payments for as long as people were disrupted by public health initiatives, such as closing and restricting businesses and activity.
Stay tuned to see what the actual plan is, who it covers and what the accommodations are.
Suspension of foreclosures for homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-backed mortgages
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are finance firms that back the mortgages of 28 million homeowners. The government agency that runs Fannie and Freddie is called the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). FHFA just announced that they are halting foreclosures. So, if you are one of the 28 million homeowners who has a mortgage backed by Fannie or Freddie, you cannot get foreclosed on or have a foreclosure-related eviction for at least 60 days during the Coronavirus crisis.
If you don’t know who owns your mortgage, you can check this site and see whether your mortgage is backed by Fannie and Freddie or not.
Check your state and city for anti-eviction and anti-foreclosure initiatives
The states are recognizing the potentially devastating toll that the health policy mandates are having on people’s ability to afford basic things like housing. There are new initiatives by states and cities announced every day. The National Low Income Housing Coalition has a very helpful website that compiles state and city relief initiatives for both homeowners and renters.
States like California, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington have announced initiatives. Cities like Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington DC have additional initiatives.
What if you can’t pay your mortgage?
If you aren’t covered by these initiatives, you can still protect yourself. Check out our article “What if you can’t pay your mortgage” which links to a free, well-researched resource on what to do if you need to make a late payment, and how to avoid foreclosure.