Feds Launch COVID19 Housing Assistance Website

The U.S. federal government launched a new website Tuesday designed to provide information and resources to homeowners and renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The site – cfpb.gov/housing – includes resources from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It includes information about what mortgage relief options homeowners may have, explains how to access mortgage relief or forbearance, details on protection for renters, and tips on avoiding scams during the pandemic.

“During these uncertain times, consumers need reliable, fair, and accurate information on the protections and relief options available to them. This joint website achieves this important goal for homeowners and renters, outlining clearly the changes that policymakers are making to assist them,” CFPB Director Kathleen L. Kraninger said. “The Bureau will continue to do everything we can to protect the economic security of consumers.”

The $2 trillion CARES Act includes a moratorium on foreclosures and the right to forbearance on federally backed mortgages. Forbearance allows borrowers to put off payments for at least 180 days if they suffer economic hardship during the pandemic.

But not all loans are backed by the federal government and therefore were not automatically eligible for forbearance, something people learned about their mortgages throughout the month of April – as complaints poured into the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Each lender must determine how to handle forbearance requests for non-government backed loans.

The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that 4 million Americans were in forbearance as of May 3 – which is 7.91 percent of all mortgages. In early March, 0.25 percent of mortgages were in forbearance. 

“This invisible enemy has a lot of Americans concerned about how they are going to stay safe and make ends meet,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “No one should lose their home because of coronavirus, and this new website is full of resources to help property owners and renters navigate these unprecedented times.”