The COVID-19 pandemic has created an atmosphere of worry, confusion, frustration, and fear for many. Unemployment is rising, and with it, the number of families who are now worrying about their living expenses. Unexpected medical bills can also add up and increase the financial burden. Due to this additional stress, options for mortgage relief and other resources have started popping up to help homeowners. A list of some of these resources has been compiled below.
Resources from the Federal Government
CARES Act Mortgage Forbearance
Forbearance allows you to temporarily stop or reduce your mortgage payments, which can be helpful if you are experiencing financial hardship. Through the CARES Act, any Government-Sponsored-Enterprise (GSE) or federally backed mortgage (which includes mortgages from the FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac) can qualify for forbearance if the borrower is experiencing hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. All you need to do is contact your mortgage lender or servicer, inform them of your financial hardship, and request a forbearance plan under the CARES Act. You can request forbearance for as long as 180 days, and at the end of that time, you can ask for an extension of another 180 days. Under the CARES Act, you won’t have any extra fees, interest, or penalties due to having a forbearance plan. However, your normal loan interest will continue to accrue normally.
It’s important to note that forbearance is not the same as forgiveness – you will be required to pay the full amount of any missed or reduced payments in the future. Therefore, if it’s possible, it’s best to continue paying your mortgage normally.
Contact your loan servicer for more information about forbearance – you can find their information on the mortgage statement that you receive every month. Be sure to ask them about repayment after your forbearance ends – will any missed payments need to be paid back in a lump sum, and if so, will this be at the end of the forbearance or the end of the loan term? Is it possible to extend the loan term and add missed payments on at the end? Will your mortgage payments be temporarily higher after the forbearance period until the missed amount has been paid?
Forbearance can be a good option if you need temporary relief due to financial hardship. Even if your mortgage is not backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the FHA, VA, or USDA, your servicer may have a forbearance option. Contact them for more information.
CARES Act Prohibited Foreclosures
Also under the Cares Act, federally or GSE backed mortgages cannot be foreclosed on from March 18, 2020, through August 31, 2020. This may be extended – be sure to check the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website regularly for updates. This temporary relief may allow you to look at other payment or housing options. It’s best to contact your mortgage lender or servicer to see if any option besides foreclosure is available, and of course, continue making your payments if possible. Also remember that some exceptions exist to this foreclosure suspension – again, it’s best to contact your mortgage servicer for more information.
Resources from State Governments
There may be additional resources for home owners offered by their state government. A list has been compiled below. If you don’t see your state listed, don’t worry! Try reaching out to your mortgage servicer to see what options are available to you.
Originally founded to help homeowners in Alabama who were in danger of losing their home due to unexpected, temporary financial burdens, Hardest Hit Alabama (HHA) has opened once again to assist those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Temporary mortgage payment assistance of as much as $30,000 is offered in the form of a forgivable loan that only needs to be repaid if the house is sold before the end of the loan term, or if the borrower has enough equity in the house to pay back all or some of the assistance amount. Either way, this assistance has 0% interest. In order to be eligible for HHA, the homeowner must be unemployed or underemployed as a result of COVID-19. More information can be found on the HHA’s website or at treasury.gov.
The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) is dedicated to providing affordable housing options to individuals in the state of Alaska. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, borrowers with a mortgage from the AHFC can request forbearance for as long as 60 days.
Save Our Home AZ, also known as SOHAZ, is funded through the US Treasury’s Hardest Hit program. Homeowners who find themselves unemployed or underemployed can apply for Principal Reduction Assistance, Monthly Mortgage Subsidy Assistance, or Second Lien Elimination Assistance. In addition to these programs, SOHAZ provides the phone number to speak with a housing counselor at no cost. Housing counselors can help provide advice and guidance to homeowners, and may be able to point them towards other types of programs or assistance. The number on SOHAZ’s website is 1-877-448-1211. Those who think they might qualify for one of SOHAZ’s programs can find more information on their website or fill out a self-assessment questionnaire by clicking here.
Homeowners in California who are having trouble paying their mortgage may be able to find help on the state’s resource website set up specifically because of the coronavirus. A list of banks and other financial institutions which may be able to lower or defer your mortgage payments is given. Further, California has declared that no foreclosures or evictions can happen for 60 days, and some utility providers won’t stop services even with non-payment.
Through Colorado’s state government, $1,000 will be offered to 20,000 households in order to help with rent and mortgage payments. This $20 million comes from the Federal government’s CARES Act. Interested individuals can look up an agency to help them access this money here, or they can call 211. There are a couple of conditions that have to be met in order to qualify, including being adversely affected by coronavirus, being unable to pay your mortgage or rent, making less than 80% of the area median income, and (for homeowners) documentation that your mortgage servicer had declined to defer your mortgage payments.
As much as $5,000 is offered by the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) as assistance for homeowners. This assistance is paid to the homeowner’s mortgage servicer directly. In order to be eligible, the homeowner must meet several criteria. First, their house must be located in Delaware and it has to be their primary residence. They must meet certain income limits. They must have been up-to-date on their mortgage payments as of April 1, 2020. And finally, their employment or income must have been negatively affected by COVID-19 beginning March 1, 2020 or later, or they must have had a COVID-19 related medical illness that has resulted in financial difficulties. For more information or to find out how to apply for assistance, check out the Delaware State Housing Authority, or the program summary page.
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation has listed resources related to housing on their website. One hundred and twenty million dollars of Florida’s Coronavirus Relief Fund has been pledged to help those living in Florida who are struggling with expenses such as rent, emergency repairs, and mortgage payments. Floridians with additional questions should check out the Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s website, or call 1-888-362-7885 for more information.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs offers information about forbearance plans as well as forbearance support. Interested individuals can contact them at 1-800-781-8346.
Anyone who has a qualified mortgage with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) will be automatically enrolled in a deferred payment plan for as long as six months. This means that there is no application process that you have to go through. However, borrowers are not required to defer their payments and are encouraged to continue paying them as normal if they are able to do so. As this is only for mortgages and other loans assigned to the DHHL, make sure that your mortgage qualifies, even though there is no application process. According to the DHHL, one way to check if your mortgage qualifies is if your loan payments are made to the DHHL. Check with the DHHL or your mortgage servicer for more information.
HomeLoanServ borrowers (and others living in Idaho) can find resources relating to housing on the Idaho Housing website. Evictions and foreclosure sales cannot continue until August 31 (as of this writing – check the website to see if this date has been extended). Furthermore, a forbearance plan due to COVID-19 has been made available. Initially, monthly mortgage payments can be postponed for a 90-day period, but this can be extended for as long as 365 days. While on the forbearance plan, borrowers will incur no late fees and no negative credit activities relating to one’s mortgage will be reported. More information on the forbearance plan can be found on the Idaho Housing website.
Homeowners in Illinois will be able to apply for emergency mortgage assistance once the applications become available on August 24. In the meantime, the Illinois Housing Department Authority recommends contacting your mortgage servicer.
Indiana has gathered resources relating to mortgage, rent, utilities, and other necessary expenses all on one page. One such resource is the Indiana Housing and Community Development (IHCDA) Hardest Hit Fund, which can offer as much as $30,000 to borrowers who need help making their mortgage payments. The Township Trustees also offers assistance in the event of an emergency, which can be put towards mortgage payments, rent, utilities, funeral costs, and other eligible situations. Furthermore, necessary utilities cannot be turned off due to nonpayment during the pandemic. Finally, foreclosure proceedings cannot continue while the pandemic still poses a threat to the community. For more information about any of these resources, click here.
Funds from the CARES Act can be put towards helping individuals in Iowa who have faced financial hardship due to the coronavirus and need assistance with their mortgage. Assistance for as much as 4 months’ worth of mortgage payments is offered to borrowers at risk of foreclosure due to unemployment or loss of income after March 17, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Household income at the time of application cannot be greater than 80% of the median family income. Documentation may need to be provided.
Borrowers with the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) have until the last business day of each month to make their mortgage payment without being considered in default. However, if the borrower cannot continue making their mortgage payments as normal, KHC recommends contacting them to discuss their loss mitigation options. Foreclosures for owner-occupied primary residences have been temporarily suspended through at least August 31. The Kentucky Homeownership Protection Center also offers free resources.
MaineHousing encourages borrowers to call them to discuss possible options if help is needed with one’s mortgage. These options include forbearance, payment plans, special programs, and loan modifications. Go to their website by clicking here to find contact information.
An Executive Order from Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan states that mortgage servicers and lenders shall offer deferred payment for as long as 90 days, late fees shall be waived, no mortgage-related negative credit information shall be reported, and foreclosure activity shall be temporarily suspended. More information about this order can be found on the MD Department of Labor website.
Eligible families in Massachusetts may be able to apply for one or several programs to assist them with their mortgage. Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) offers as much as $4,000 to qualified households. More information about ERMA can be found in the press release published online.
Michigan provides a list of financial institutions who have agreed to the following: 90-day grace period for mortgage payments; streamlined forbearance request process; opportunities to extend forbearance; waiver of late fees for 90 days; no foreclosure proceedings for 60 days; no reporting of negative credit information. In addition, financial institutions are encouraged to work with their borrowers about the borrowers’ concerns.
The Office of the Minnesota Attorney General has provided a list of financial institutions who have agreed to a number of items in order to assist homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance includes a forbearance period of 90 days for those impacted by COVID as well as no lump sum of repayment required at the end of the forbearance. (Rather, borrowers can either add any missed payments at the end of their loan term by extending their loan term, or incorporate any missed or reduced payments into their regular payments.) Furthermore, borrowers with a forbearance plan cannot have any late or missed payments reported to any credit reporting agency, and all late fees shall be waived. Additional resources and information can be found on the Minnesota Homeownership Center’s website.
Through the Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC), the Hardest Hit fund has been reopened due to the coronavirus pandemic. This Hardest Hit fund offers temporary mortgage assistance to those experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. Applications can be submitted through an online portal.
For residents of St. Louis, Missouri, information about COVID-19 as well as resources and assistance can be found on St. Louis’ website. This includes funding from the CARES Act, which can be used to help with mortgage payments. Assistance for mortgage payments will be paid to the lender directly, but borrowers can apply either online, through email, or through mail (an application must be requested first).
As much as $2,000 per month is offered as assistance by the Montana Housing Emergency Assistance Program. This can be put towards mortgage payments, hazard insurance, security deposits or rent. An online calculator can be used to estimate how much monthly assistance you are likely to receive. Income limits apply, based on household size, with a maximum limit of $125,000.
Nebraska lists the following mortgage and foreclosure help resources. Nebraskans can call 211 for information about free homeowner counseling. Speaking to a housing or homeowner counselor can help you learn how to better communicate with your lender and learn if there are any steps you can take to make your living situation more affordable.
The state of New Jersey has a list of financial institutions that have pledged to help support homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic by doing the following: 90-day forbearance plans that allow you to temporarily reduce or defer your monthly payments; temporary waiver of late fees and other eligible fees; no new foreclosures for a period of 60 days; no negative effect on your credit score for utilizing forbearance or assistance. More information can be found on their website. Furthermore, no household can be removed from their primary residence as a result of a foreclosure or eviction until two months after the New Jersey Governor declares that the pandemic is over, unless a new order to end the eviction moratorium is issued.
A list of foreclosure and mortgage resources is given on New Mexico’s Attorney General’s website. This includes counseling services that can help borrowers and lenders communicate and potentially come to a resolution, legal services, a foreclosure hotline, and foreclosure prevention information.
New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) offers information about COVID-19, mortgages, and foreclosure. New Yorkers can read about their options, including forbearance. Phone numbers for legal help, counseling, hotlines, and more are also given. No matter your situation, the DFS stresses that communication with your mortgage servicer is key.
Families who live in Charlotte, North Carolina may be able to utilize the City of Charlotte COVID-19 Mortgage Relief Assistance Program. As much as 3 months’ worth of mortgage payments (including principal, interest, taxes and insurance) are offered in the form of a grant to eligible applicants. Only households who had an income of 80% or less of the area median income (before any income or employment loss due to COVID-19) are eligible. Further, homeowners must have been current on their mortgage loan before any employment or income loss due to COVID-19. Applicants will need to show supporting documentation and any approved applicants will need to attend authorized foreclosure prevention counseling. Assistance will be given to approved applicants first-come, first-serve, due to limitations in funding.
The Community Action Agency (CAA) of Oklahoma offers emergency rent and mortgage assistance for those who fall within specified income limits and who have experienced a loss or hardship due to COVID-19. Applications can be completed online.
Resources for Oregon homeowners can be found on this website, including information on forbearance, the CARES Act, coronavirus, foreclosure, and more.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) offers the CARES Pandemic Mortgage Assistance Program to households struggling to pay their mortgage during this crisis. Homeowners can apply (or lenders can apply on behalf of homeowners) as long as they are unemployed (or have a loss of income) as a result of COVID-19 and are delinquent on their monthly mortgage payments. As much as $1,000 per month is offered for up to 6 months in the form of a grant, which is paid to the lender directly. More information can be found on PHFA’s website.
Rhode Island’s Department of Health lists resources for homeowners as well as renters. One initiative that can help both landlords and renters is the “Landlord Challenge,” which is a financial incentive for landlords to make units available to homeless or housing-insecure individuals and families in Rhode Island. Up to $2,000 is offered as a sign-on bonus for the first unit that is made available, with $500 for each unit after that and up to $2,000 for minor renovations or repairs in those units. Rhode Island has pledged $500,000 towards this initiative.
Vermont has a COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program that offers assistance in the form of a grant, which means that the assistance does not have to be repaid. This assistance, up to six months’ worth of delinquent mortgage payments, is paid to the servicer of the mortgage directly. Applications are currently open, but close on August 31 (or sooner if applicants exceed the expected amount). It is possible a second round of applications will be accepted if there are funds left over.
Through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) offers assistance with rent and mortgage payments. This assistance is offered as a one-time payment, but with the option to renew based on the availability of funds and the need of the assistance. In order to be eligible, the individual must have reduced income due to COVID-19 (which includes those who have become unemployed, those who must remain home to watch children due to school or daycare closing, those who have lost an income-providing spouse or child, those who suffered from COVID-19 and therefore had reduced hours or employment, and those who are considered an extremely high risk group and therefore remain home due to the fear of exposure to COVID-19). In addition, the applicant’s mortgage must be 150% or less of the Fair Market Rent, and the applicant’s household income must be 80% or less than the area median income. Documentation will be required.
Borrowers in Washington who need help or information can call the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) at 1-877-746-4334. Another useful number is the Washington Homeownership Hotline, where homeowners can speak with housing counselors at 1-877-894-4663. Additional information about forbearance, mortgages, coronavirus, and your options can be found on the DFI’s website.
The West Virginia Housing Development Fund (WVHDF) offers assistance as well as tips to those suffering from financial hardship. Interested borrowers can find their mortgage assistance application online, which has to be mailed in. WVHDF’s tips for homeowners includes increase the amount you save, track your monthly expenses, reduce debt, be proactive, and find supplemental income. Additionally, while not specifically related to mortgages, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) has announced an initiative called Pandemic Diversionary Cash Assistance (PDCA), which provides one-time financial assistance to individuals with at least one dependent child, but little or no income due to COVID-19. Mortgage payments are considered when determining need and eligibility for this program. More information about PDCA can be found on the DHHR’s website or by contacting the DHHR customer service hotline at 1-877-716-1212.
Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) lists multiple resources for individuals and families in Wisconsin that have been affected by COVID-19. Calling 211 will connect you with someone who can refer you to programs, services or organizations that may be able to help with your unique situation. The DWD also recommends getting in contact with WISCAP for assistance with a variety of basic needs. For mortgage assistance and information, DWD also provides contact information for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) or the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
The Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) has developed the Wyoming Emergency Housing Assistance Program (WEHAP) to help those burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with delinquent rent or mortgage payments may be able to receive as much as $3,000 per month. In the case of someone applying due to missed mortgage payments, this is paid to the servicer directly. In order to qualify, applicants cannot make more than $20,833 per month. Applications can be made online, or more information can be found by contacting the WCDA. A calculator is also provided to help estimate how much assistance you might be eligible for.
If you’re struggling financially and have monthly mortgage payments, there may be options for you, including forbearance, counseling, assistance funds, and more. Check to see what local, state, and federal programs might be available to you, and be sure to talk to your mortgage servicer or lender to see if they have any options to suit your situation.