WASHINGTON- Yesterday, a diverse coalition of more than 350 groups, including 64 national housing and civil rights organizations sent a letter to congressional leaders advocating for further relief for homeowners in the next COVID-19 stimulus package. “Mortgage payments assistance will be critically important to the nearly 3 million borrowers that remain in long-term forbearance plans from their mortgage servicers,” the letter explains.
The letter was signed by an extraordinarily broad and diverse set of national housing organizations, including the American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of REALTORS®, National Association of Home Builders and the Housing Policy Council, as well as the NAACP, National Urban League, National Fair Housing Alliance, and National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), to name just a few. It calls for $25 billion in direct assistance to homeowners facing hardships as a result of COVID-19, who disproportionately represent communities of color, with state housing finance agencies deploying the bulk of the funds through the Homeowner Assistance Fund. The letter also calls for at least $100 million for housing counseling and $39.7 million for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jack Reed (D-RI) recently reintroduced the Homeowner Assistance Fund, modeled after the Hardest Hit Fund. The fund “would enable state housing finance agencies to help homeowners with COVID-19 hardships, including providing direct assistance with mortgage payments, helping people get into affordable loan modifications, and assisting with utility payments, property tax and insurance payments, homeowner association dues and other support to prevent the loss of home equity, mortgage delinquency, default, foreclosure, or loss of utility services,” the letter states.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, there are currently 3.8 million homeowners who are past due on their mortgages. Over half of these homeowners are people of color, according to U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data for the period covering Jan. 6 – 18. The group cautions, “We cannot begin to tackle the racial homeownership and wealth gaps if we do not take steps to prevent a wave of COVID-induced foreclosures and loss of home equity.”
About NHC: The National Housing Conference has been defending the American Home since 1931. Everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. NHC convenes and collaborates with our diverse membership and the broader housing and community development sectors to advance our policy, research and communications initiatives to effect positive change at the federal, state and local levels. Politically diverse and nonpartisan, NHC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.