June 7, 2021
American Housing Month: COVID Relief
COVID-19 Housing Relief Options
Learn about your options with these tips from the ABA Foundation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial stress for millions of individuals across the country—and America’s banks are here to help. Keeping yourself informed of your options is an important first step to weather this crisis.
This page contains resources and information to help those struggling to make their monthly housing payments due to COVID-19. If you are having trouble paying other bills, or are worried about future payments, please visit our Crisis Help page to understand your options.
Your bank will work with you to find solutions for your situation. Your bank always has your financial well-being in mind.
CARES Act Housing Relief
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act federal relief package helps protect homeowners with federally backed mortgages and renters struggling to make their monthly payments because they have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, on December 21, Congress passed a $900 billion Covid-19 aid bill to provide emergency rental assistance with rent and utility payments for those renter household expenses that were incurred due, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic. The bill provides $25 billion in rental assistance to qualifying households. For further details on how to qualify, see Treasury FAQ (3/26/2021).
Use these resources to educate yourself about mortgage and housing relief options during this national crisis.
CARES Act Relief Options for Homeowners
If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage, immediately contact your lender or loan servicer. But if you can pay your mortgage, you should continue to do so. If your circumstances change, you can request help at that time.
- What is a loan servicer? This is the company or financial institution that receives your monthly payments. To find your loan servicer’s contact information, check your monthly statement.
Under the CARES Act, and subject to certain exceptions, your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days after March 18, 2020. The foreclosure moratorium has been extended through June 30, 2021.
For a period of time, the CARES Act gives borrowers with a federally backed mortgage the right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days after March 18, 2020, and the right to request an extension for up to another 180 days following the initial forbearance period. You must contact your loan servicer to request this forbearance. To the extent you obtain a CARES Act forbearance, there will be no additional fees, penalties or interest (beyond scheduled amounts) on your loan during the forbearance period.
- What is forbearance? Forbearance means that your lender or servicer will suspend your monthly mortgage payment (or reduce the payment, if you can afford it) for an agreed period of time. However, forbearance does not mean your payments are forgiven or that your mortgage loan agreement is permanently modified in any way. You will be required to repay any missed or reduced payments and, at the end of the forbearance period, your lender or servicer will work with you to determine the appropriate manner in which to repay the forborne payments. The CFPB has posted information on "How to Repay Your Forbearance," which describes the options that may be available to you.
- What is a Federally backed mortgage? It is a mortgage owned or insured by a government agency such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the VA or FHA. Your servicer will be able to tell you if you have a federally backed mortgage. Even if you learn that your mortgage is not federally backed and you are experiencing a financial hardship related to the pandemic, you should contact your servicer to ask for help.
The CFPB Guide to Coronavirus Mortgage Relief Options contains information and FAQs to help you understand your options. Additionally, HUD and the CFPB produced a short video explaining what you need to know about forbearance. Information about what to do once you’ve received a mortgage relief option, including the repayment options after the forbearance period ends, is available on the CFPB's website.
Homeowners Assistance Fund
The American Rescue Plan Act was signed on March 11, 2021, which includes $9,961,000,000 funding of the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) to prevent homeowner defaults, foreclosures, and displacement of individuals and families experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. Relief will be available for conforming loans on residential loan 1-to-4 unit dwellings. The Department of Treasury is currently working on the details of funding guidance and key program parameters for how states may use the HAF funds to help borrowers mitigate financial hardships associated with the coronavirus pandemic. These funds are available to eligible entities for the purpose of preventing homeowner mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacements of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020, through qualified expenses related to mortgages and housing. Check back for updates when the program becomes available.
CARES Act Relief Options for Renters
If you’re having trouble paying rent, talk to your landlord immediately about your current financial situation. It’s important you engage with your landlord, as rent payments are still due.
The December 21, 2020 Covid-19 aid relief package provides direct financial assistance to renters, including rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs as well as other home related expenses. Eligible households are defined as renter households that:
- Have a household income not more than 80 percent of area median income (AMI);
- Have one or more household members who can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
- Have one or more household members who qualify for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the pandemic.
Renters should apply for assistance with entities that the state and local administrators select to administer the program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ordered a halt to certain residential evictions for nonpayment. The order prevents eviction through March 31, 2021 if renters qualify for the protection. To determine your eligibility, review the order for more information.
Also, be sure to check out the CFPB’s website for information to help you find out if your housing is covered. Many states have suspended certain eviction and foreclosure activity due to the pandemic. Check the websites of your state government, state court or legal aid program for more information.
CARES Act Relief Options for Service Members and Military Families
Military families, communities and veterans are also experiencing financial challenges due to the pandemic, and certain CARES Act provisions also apply to the military community.
Credit Reporting Under the CARES Act
Your credit reports and credit scores are vital to your financial health. Your credit report contains financial information that lenders rely on to determine whether you are fit for a loan. It contains information on how much debt you have, how frequently you pay your bills, how much credit you have access to, and whether or not you have filed for bankruptcy or have a judgment rendered against you.
Under federal law, you are entitled to a copy of your credit report annually from the three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Be sure to review your information to ensure the reports are accurate.
If you can’t make payments, contact your creditors and explain your situation. They may be willing to provide payment options. The CARES Act places special requirements on companies that report your payment information to credit reporting companies.
For more information, the CFPB has guidance on consumer reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact a Housing and Credit Counselor
Counselors are professionally trained to help you assess your situation and evaluate the best financial options to consider. For assistance contact:
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Approved Housing Counselors
- American Consumer Credit Counseling
- Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education
- National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Beware of Scams
Scammers prey on people’s fears. They use fake websites, bogus products, emails, texts messages and social media posts to find ways to steal your financial assets and your identity. Learn more about tips to avoid coronavirus scams and how you can protect your financial assets.
Other Federal and State Resources
- Coronavirus Mortgage and Housing Assistance, jointly produced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Housing Assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Legal Help from the Legal Services Corporation
- Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the CFPB issued a Consumer Relief Guide with borrowers’ rights to mortgage payment forbearance and foreclosure protection under the Federal CARES Act. CSBS also maintains a state tracker with useful consumer information on topics such as mortgage forbearance, modification of loan terms, stays on evictions, restrictions on overdraft fees and more on their COVID-19 Consumer Resources webpage.