The financial fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak is causing many families like yours to wonder how they might be able to continue to pay their mortgage — or even whether they may lose their homes. Thankfully, policymakers, private industry, and advocates have been working to soften the economic blow that is expected from the loss of jobs or income from tenants. Here is a list of available resources.
Get free mortgage assistance statewide
Housing counseling and legal services are available through the Homeowner Protection Program, which provides free, qualified mortgage assistance relief services from a network of 87 community-based organizations throughout the state vetted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Contact HOPP online or by calling 855-HOME-456 or 646-786-0888 to get referred to a counselor or attorney.
Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, counseling services will be provided via phone; some agencies offer video services.
How can housing counseling and legal services help? From mortgage modifications to navigating the foreclosure process, the professionals with the HOPP network offer personalized plans and assistance, even with the most complex cases.
Contact your lender or servicer
If you are afraid that you may be unable to make mortgage payments because of COVID-19, it’s critical that you contact your mortgage lender or servicer first. They can speak to you about your options, such as forbearance or reduced payments. Try to keep making mortgage payments, if you can. Please note that because of a high volume of calls, you may have to wait to speak with someone. But don’t give up!
Under a law recently signed by President Trump in response to the COVID-19 emergency, homeowners with federally-backed mortgages have protections including: 1) a foreclosure moratorium and 2) a right to forbearance.
To learn more, go to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website for an extensive explanation on coronavirus mortgage relief options, including what forbearance actually means. The CFPB is also a great resource to learn about credit counseling, unemployment benefits, and dealing with debt collectors.
We know this can be confusing, and you may not immediately know if you have a federally-backed mortgage. Call our Homeowner Hub today at 646-786-0898. We can help! We’d also like to hear from you if you are unable to reach your mortgage lender or servicer.
Watch out for scams
As we saw in 2008, economic crises tend to invite scammers. The FCC is reporting an uptick in text messages and robocalls hawking coronavirus testing kits, health insurance, and fake cures. Always be suspicious if you are asked for personal or account information. You can also visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to hear recordings of recent COVID-19 robocall scams.
If you suspect you may be a victim of a scam, call us at 1-855-HOME-456 or fill out this form at HomeownerHelpNY.com, supported by the Center and the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where you can learn about the common signs of scams.
Evictions suspended in New York State
All eviction proceedings have been suspended until June 20, 2020. This does not mean that rent payments are stopped. The Center has been monitoring possible state and federal rental relief programs. The Center has heard reports of new eviction proceedings still being filed, but people are not defaulting for not appearing. Essential applications (lockouts, repair orders) are still allowed.
Check in on court dates
Some courts have already begun rescheduling postponed foreclosure auctions and court appearances. Homeowners with scheduled court dates and auctions should check with the court to see if their date has been postponed or rescheduled. Call the NYS Courts Coronavirus Hotline at 833-503-0447 for more information.
Contact your gas and electric companies
If you’ve fallen behind on your gas and electric bills because of lost income from the coronavirus, reach out to your utility providers to see what help is available. Shutoffs have been suspended for customers affected by COVID19.
Take control of your finances
Since you may be stuck at home for a while, take a look at our Financial Health Toolkit to see if you need to reset your home budget in this time of crisis and learn how to cut costs. Some banks may also provide online resources.
Learn how to manage your mortgage
Take care of yourself
It’s a stressful time, and it’s important to take care of yourself. There is free, professional help available. Contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 for 24/7, 365-days-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. You can also contact the New York State Office of Mental Health’s COVID-19 Emotional Support Line at 1-844-863-9314.