Governments Scramble to Help Homeowners, Renters Make Payments, Stay in Homes. Will it be Enough?

Governments throughout the United States are pushing a rash of programs meant to help homeowners and renters make mortgage and rent payments. It’s part of a broad effort to stave off a potential housing crisis that some experts warn is looming over the U.S. 

Whether or not those measures will be enough remains to be seen. But both state governments and Washington are betting those billions in funding, as well as targeted housing policies, will forestall economic disruption at a time when the economy is just getting back on track after more than a year of a pandemic. 

The Biden administration this week launched a loan modification program that will “allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage at no additional cost to the borrower.” The measure, which also includes loan-extension and financial assistance provisions, is meant to address financial difficulties homeowners might be facing after roughly 18 months of the COVID-19 crisis. 

The administration’s new policy comes after the federal government has distributed billions in financial rent assistance ahead of the end of the federal “eviction moratorium,” which is set to expire at the end of this month. 

That funding was supposed to provide a lifeline to renters whose finances may have been disrupted by economic shutdowns and other pandemic factors. Yet reports have surfaced that lower governments are struggling to distribute billions of dollars in that aid, raising the question of whether enough of that funding has made it into renters’ hands to make much of a difference after July 31.