Tips for Homeowners Facing Hardship During the Pandemic
Many families, hourly wage earners, and seniors on fixed incomes have fears of hardship in the near term as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some worry about their finances in terms of weeks—some only days, much less months that are potentially needed for full economic recovery.
“Shelter in place – stay at home…” Those phrases are everywhere and indicate that housing is a need now more than ever.
If you’re a homeowner who is facing hardship and worrying about planning for your housing costs, here are a few tips to consider:
- Contact your mortgage servicer as soon as you think you have a problem making payments.
- Open and respond to all correspondence from your servicer.
- Seek help early. You may have relief options which include suspending payments for a period of time or reducing the amount of your payment. Options can vary based on your loan type and situation and as more information from the industry becomes available. Keep in mind, you may have to wait for a bit when you call – the servicers are VERY busy right now and are handling lots of calls and questions from homeowners.
- Prepare for your conversation with them. Your mortgage servicer will commonly ask for:
- Full contact information for all borrowers on the loan
- Property information (address, loan number)
- Hardship reason – why you are unable to meet your current payment and when it started
- All income amounts and sources contributing to the mortgage
- Be wary of scams. No one can promise or guarantee modification of a loan or prevention of foreclosure other than your servicer.
There are organizations that can help. Most offer assistance free of charge, whether it’s help trimming your budget to save a bit more to put toward necessities, helping you understand what your options might be in order to best work with your servicer, or providing important referrals to local assistance.
Here are three places to go for help:
- Call the Homeowners HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673), a service which helps homeowners avoid foreclosure
- Look for a HUD approved housing counseling agency near you using HUD’s online locator tool
- For local resources simply dial 211 on your phone to connect to a hotline which provides information on essential community resources and services including food and clothing banks, shelters, rent assistance, and utility assistance.