July 16, 2020 — Testimony

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has brought illness, death, unemployment, and greater economic insecurity to Americans across the country. Communities of color, particularly Black and Latinx communities, have been especially hard hit by COVID-19, with higher rates of illness, death, and unemployment due to COVID-19 than majority white communities. Pre- existing inequalities are being exacerbated by the current crisis, and Black and Latinx homeownership is imperiled. Stable and affordable homeownership opportunities are one key component to maintaining and expanding economic opportunity. The pandemic has laid bare the fragility and weaknesses in our nation’s housing and mortgage finance systems. To mitigate some of the harm wrought by the pandemic, Congress must continue its vigilance in protecting homeowners, it must improve transparency for housing relief programs, and it must increase its efforts to regulate and reform the mortgage servicing industry.

Swift Congressional action to implement a foreclosure moratorium and create a mortgage forbearance program in the CARES Act was an important first step in preserving homeownership and helping struggling homeowners. However, the work is not done, and more action is needed. To prevent a flood of avoidable foreclosures and bankruptcies, enhance transparency and accountability, and promote compliance and fairness, we recommend: