Lost Your Job? Here’s Where You Can Get Help With Your Mortgage

Published:
June 2, 2020
Last updated:
March 30, 2022
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The global onset of the COVID-19 disrupted economies throughout the world. In the United States, and the Northwest in particular, state governments closed schools, libraries, cultural institutions, and recreational facilities. They also ordered companies and private businesses that they deem non-essential to cease operations, at least in terms of brick and mortar facilities.

Needless to say, the suspension of commercial activity pushed the economy into recession and millions of Americans onto unemployment rolls. While the situation is improving and more Americans are getting back to work, many are still jobless, and the bills keep coming.

With mortgage forbearance, you may be able to get temporary help to assist in the case of job loss, illness, or a disability. If you are financially impacted by a crisis, you may be able to get help from your state government or even the federal government.

Even though the recent health crisis is nearing its end, mortgag eforbearance may still be an option that lenders may offer to struggling homeowners, regardless of the issue.

Mortgage Forbearance by State

It goes without saying that those who have the money should pay their mortgages. Nevertheless, each state makes a point of reaching out to struggling mortgagees.

Washington

The Evergreen State’s Department of Financial Institutions offers a toll-free information line — 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334) — that helps borrowers with the nuts and bolts of seeking forbearance. With all the relevant information, these homeowners are encouraged to contact their loan servicers and arrange for partial or delayed payments.

Oregon

The Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services offers a number of programs for homeowners in trouble. These include the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Program and the Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative. Such resources aid owners with lender relationships, including forbearance appeals to prevent foreclosure and preserve good credit.

Idaho

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association provides a centralized online portal to seek forbearance assistance for owners of affordable housing. Meanwhile, all borrowers are advised to promptly contact their lenders if they can not meet their monthly mortgage obligations in full.

Colorado

Colorado officials urge all distressed property owners to petition their lenders for forbearance since federally-backed mortgages are promised this under the CARES Act. The state government also works with lenders to extend a 90-day forbearance period for consumer loans, such as those for college students and automobile purchasers.

Help from the Federal Government

On March 27, 2020, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This represented a package of over two-trillion dollars of economic relief to individuals, families, and small businesses. Much of these funds are direct cash infusions.

Another helpful provision of CARES was its Paycheck Protection Program, which covered small businesses and qualified non-profit organizations. The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines such enterprises as employing no more than 250 people.

In some industries, SBA raises that maximum to 1,500. Most often, SBA bases its evaluation on the number of workers compared to average annual receipts.

In any event, the PPP afforded business owners the funds to cover payroll costs, including benefits, for eight weeks. Monies were disbursed to small businesses as loans but were forgiven if employees were retained after businesses re-opened.

Help from State Governments

Washington

To accommodate the surge of unemployment applications resulting from temporary layoffs due to COVID-19, the Washington Employment Security Department expanded its physical facilities, workforce and technological capacity. Meanwhile, the governor solicited the cooperation of the public utilities to suspend disconnections and waive late fees for customers unable to make timely payments.

These voluntary measures embraced:

  1. Willingness to grant forbearance
  2. A 90-day moratorium on reporting late and delinquent payments to the credit agencies
  3. Offering borrowers three months to modify their loans for easier payment
  4. Postponing foreclosures

Mortgage originations presently continue in Washington. Those who closed loans since the coronavirus response was implemented should find out whether such adjustments would be available to them.

Oregon

The economic ramifications of COVID-19 were not lost on the state of Oregon. According to statistics from the state’s Employment Department, initial unemployment claims jumped from 4,900 the week of March 8th, 2020 to 76,500 the following week. 97,200 new claims followed for the week of March 22nd. The department added personnel with each deluge, last numbering 450 processors for claims.

Oregon’s Division of Financial Regulation reached out to mortgage lenders and other issuers or financial credit. These communications urged financial institutions to err on the side of compassion when considering forbearance petitions or other requests for relief. The government also urged banks and finance companies to accept partial payments during the course of the pandemic.

The fact that mortgage servicers operated with limited staff actually slowed punitive collection activities, a silver lining for besieged borrowers if not for lender employees. Not one of these government recommendations constitutes a legal mandate.

Idaho

The Idaho Department of Labor tweaked its rules relative to claimants whose situations were coronavirus-related. The requirements for ongoing job searches were suspended as long as the applicants demonstrated that returning to their jobs was anticipated by both employer and employee.

In addition, the department reviewed, on a case-by-case basis, the eligibility of those who were unable to work due to COVID-19 and those who are unwilling to go to work for fear of COVID-19 exposure. Also, supplemental funds from the CARES Act were added to general unemployment compensation.

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association proposed the following for mortgagors and mortgagees:

  1. Forbearance in the interest of short-term alleviation of financial stress. Borrowers were encouraged to seek, and lenders encouraged to grant, forbearance petitions of up to six months when at all possible.
  2. Deferring several months of payments until the end of the loan term, in effect creating a balloon payment. Unlike typical forbearance, the mortgagor makes the regular payment upon resumption of loan amortization rather than making larger remittances to catch up. Again, the CARES Act precluded these delays from being reflected on the borrower’s credit report or history.

Colorado

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is the first stop for laid off workers to get financial assistance. People who were terminated or had regular hours reduced can apply for benefits online with the departmental SmartFile webpage. Self-employed Coloradans who were forced to stop doing business because of the pandemic had access to state unemployment funds through the CARES Act distribution to the states.

As house payments loomed, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) advised moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions. Concerning the loans in which CHFA invests, it offered a hardship assistance support plan in consultation with its loan servicing team. Its website offers all the pertinent links.

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