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FAQs: Housing & Financial Capability Resources During COVID-19

During these trying times, partnership and collaboration are key. Knowing the choices available to you is vital in making proactive, informed decisions and protecting your home. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Freddie Mac, a Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) in the housing industry, ensuring that people with disabilities, veterans and their families are financially capable. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we’re making sure renters and homeowners are supported.

Easterseals and Freddie Mac encourages you to review the following questions when exploring options available to sustain homeownership.

I own a home and I have no idea how I’m going to pay my mortgage. Where can I find relief options?

During times of hardship, you want to understand and explore your options. That’s why Freddie Mac created an interactive guide for homeowners that provides an overview of resources available to you. A supplemental version of the guide is also available in Spanish. Freddie Mac also created a Homeowner Checklist, available in English and Spanish, to assist homeowners in asking the right questions and collecting the proper information and documents when exploring options available to sustain homeownership. You can also find additional information around Coronavirus housing assistance on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.

Who do I contact for mortgage assistance if I’m having trouble making payments?

If you feel you may fall behind on your mortgage payments contact your mortgage company/loan servicer immediately. You can find the telephone number of your loan servicer on your mortgage statement. The earlier you reach out, the better you’ll be armed with information on your available options.

You also can speak with a HUD-certified housing counselor who is trained to assist homeowners in navigating financial needs. They’ll review your options and provide resources relevant to your situation. Freddie Mac offers this service through their Borrower Help Center Network with locations throughout the country. In addition, you can search for a housing counseling agency in your area on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.

What is forbearance and how can it help with my mortgage payments during COVID-19?

Forbearance is a temporary postponement of mortgage payments. When entering forbearance, your mortgage payments are suspended until the end of the forbearance period. Remember, you must pay the money back in the future, but you don’t need to pay in one lump sum.

On March 27, 2020 Congress passed the CARES Act, which established specific forbearance and foreclosure protections for homeowners with mortgages that are federally backed or funded by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We provide more information below on the specific relief options available to borrowers with federally backed loans. To determine whether your mortgage is owned by one of the entities listed above, visit here.

I’ve determined my loan is owned by one of the federally backed entities listed above. What are the forbearance relief options available to me?

Borrowers in federally backed loans have the option of mortgage payment relief for up to 12 months without penalties or late fees. Borrowers are eligible for forbearance regardless of whether their property is owner occupied, a second home or an investment property. After the forbearance period there are loan modification options available to help borrowers stay in their homes. For more information on forbearance for mortgages owned by Freddie Mac and to find out if Freddie Mac owns your mortgage, click here. To find out which relief you qualify for if you don’t have a mortgage owned by Freddie Mac, click here.

What if I am living in a home that does not appear to be federally backed?

It’s still important to contact your loan servicer (the company on your mortgage statement) to determine what possible relief options are available to you.

Are there housing relief resources for people living in rural areas?

If your loan is federally backed, people living in rural areas are eligible for mortgage payment relief for up to 12 months without penalties or fees. Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development COVID-19 website provides helpful resources for people living in rural areas.

What housing relief resources are available to renters?

Under the CARES Act, if you’re a renter living in a property with a federally backed mortgage—including mortgage loans backed by Freddie Mac— you’re covered by a temporary moratorium on eviction filings that lasts through July 25, 2020.

There’s also temporary relief from eviction filings if you live in a property with a federally backed mortgage loan in forbearance taken by a landlord as a result of financial hardship due to COVID-19. Rent payments are still due during any temporary moratorium on eviction filings.

If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, reach out to your landlord or property manager to discuss your situation. If you’re struggling to pay your rent you can also contact the Freddie Mac Renter Helpline at 1-800-404-3097 or contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. HUD-certified housing counselors can provide free assistance with:

How do I know if I’m being scammed?

We’re finding that "foreclosure rescue fraud” is on the rise. Scammers might promise you they’ll be able to save your home or secure a reduced mortgage payment. They’ll seek personal information or ask you to sign over the title to your home. They may even ask to collect an upfront fee.

No matter what, don’t provide your information. If someone has contacted you asking for personal information or any of the above requests, make sure to verify who you’re speaking with first. Reach out to the company directly and ask if the communication is legitimate. Report scams via the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website or contact the HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) if you suspect you’ve been a victim of a mortgage scam.

How can I work on improving credit and financial wellness during this time?

Easterseals and Freddie Mac created a webinar series to tackle some of our most frequently asked credit and finance questions. If you’re looking to organize your finances, improve credit, and learn how to reach your financial goals as a person with a disability or a parent of a child with disabilities - these webinars are for you. You can also speak with a community-based credit counseling agency for guidance on money management, credit and debt.

Quote from Stacey Walker, Director of Housing Outreach at Freddie Mac:

“To avoid misinformation related to COVID-19 mortgage relief, always be sure you are working with knowledgeable, trusted sources and individuals. Freddie Mac has been providing timely information and guidance to consumers and housing professionals, so they are able to make informed decisions, or assist others in making informed decisions. We are hopeful that everyone will visit our resource links often to get updated, reliable information.”

Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we've made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders and taxpayers. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac and Freddie Mac's blog FreddieMac.com/blog.

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