March 19, 2020 — Press Release

Boston – National Consumer Law Center advocates praised recent measures taken by the federal government to help homeowners remain in their homes and to protect their credit scores but said more needs to be done. The foreclosure relief announced yesterday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will apply to the majority of single family mortgages in the nation and impose a 60-day halt on foreclosures and post-foreclosure evictions.

“We welcome these important first steps toward preventing homeowners from losing their homes during this pandemic, however the agencies should ensure that their policies provide accessible and fair procedures for payment relief,” said National Consumer Law Center attorney Alys Cohen. “States also have a role and should also halt foreclosures and evictions. And the private-label mortgage market should follow with a moratorium and also ensure that homeowners are offered affordable payment options in the aftermath of the pandemic. Throughout this process, mortgage companies need to ensure access for homeowners whose primary language is not English.”

Homeowners can check whether their loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by using the agencies’ loan look up tools and can confirm whether their loan is FHA-insured by reviewing their loan documents and mortgage statements. Homeowners should also contact their mortgage company to explore their options.

National Consumer Law Center advocates also applaud new bills in the Senate to further reduce the harm caused by the pandemic. New legislation introduced yesterday by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio (S. 3509) provides homeowners a six-month foreclosure moratorium while also allowing homeowners to obtain a payment halt and affordable options to subsequently bring their loans current. Additionally, Senator Brown and Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii cosponsored a bill that was introduced on March 17 to protect the credit reports of Americans during the financial crisis.

“By recognizing the need to stop negative credit reporting for at least four months and by providing further relief to consumers experiencing hardship, The Disaster Protection For Workers’ Credit Act (S. 3508) is critical to protecting the millions of consumers who are facing increasing job losses and other economic perils from this pandemic. This bill prevents the financial catastrophe families are or will soon experience from ruining their credit records and their ability to financially recover once the crisis is over,” said National Consumer Law Center attorney Chi Chi Wu.


Free Covid-19 Resources

NCLC has created a new webpage dedicated to Covid-19 and Consumer Protections. The page is continually updated to help families to navigate their finances during these turbulent times and for advocates to keep track of the latest consumer protection policy measures and pending legislation. As part of NCLC’s effort to assist consumers and advocates, we have made the digital edition of Surviving Debt: Expert Advice For Getting Out of Financial Trouble free to all during this unprecedented crisis. Access Surviving Debt for free here. The print version is also available to purchase with bulk discounts at NCLC’s Digital Library bookstore.

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