As the economy grinds to a halt during the coronavirus epidemic, renters and homeowners alike are facing hardship. The scary fact is: many people who have never faced foreclosure or eviction may face it now. But there are programs to help some folks get through this challenging time.
The federal government is trying to help people with Federal Housing Administration loans through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Chuck Kracht is the director of loan servicing at the Idaho Housing and Finance Association.
“Any government-backed mortgage, there will not be any sort of foreclosure action started or any eviction proceedings that are completed within a 60-day period from March 18,” said Kracht during an interview on Idaho Matters.
He said the moratorium gives anyone with a government-backed loan time to apply for forbearance on their loan.
“It’s a plan or an agreement when a lender or mortgage servicer agrees or suspends payments for a set amount of time. If you think of it as hitting a pause button on your loan. What it's not is loan forgiveness."
Kracht said most other lenders are also offering some kind of forbearance, to let homeowners skip a few payments and pay them back later. But it’s up to the homeowner to contact their lender for help.
Renters are facing similar challenges. Ali Rabe is the Executive Director of Jesse Tree, which works to prevent eviction and homelessness in Idaho. She says calls to the nonprofit from folks unable to pay their rent have gone from 10 per day to 40 calls per day as the coronavirus crisis has increased in Idaho.
“We heard from someone on the phone the other day who was calling us as her husband was being taken to the hospital because he couldn’t breath," Rabe said. "So we’re hearing from all kinds of people who are having really serious issues going on because of Covid."
She has this advice for folks who are struggling to pay their rent:
1. Try to work out a solution with your landlord.
2. File for unemployment.
3. Contact Health and Welfare for assistance.
4. If you have kids, contact their school’s social worker.
5. Call the Jesse Tree housing crisis line for more resources and possible financial help: 208-383-9486
“And as much as possible, we’re encouraging tenants to reach out to networks of support they already have because this is really going to take a community-wide effort,” said Rabe.
Depending on where you live, there may be a hold on eviction hearings. But the hold won't last past the current crisis, so both Kracht and Rabe urged people to act now to find solutions.
As COVID-19 cases spread through the U.S. and Idaho, we’re committed to keeping you updated and informed. You can get updated info on cases, closures and how to stay healthy at any time on our Coronavirus news blog.
Idaho Matters is working on a story about how families are dealing with school closures during the coronavirus outbreak. Parents: What do your days look like now? Are you creating structure, or are you letting your kids have an extended spring break? Kids: What do you like about being at home, and what do you miss about school and being with your friends? Using your smartphone, please send us a voice memo with your family. Tell us about your daily routine, or about what your’e doing to stay distracted or learning. Send the voice memo to email@example.com. We might use your message in an upcoming show.
Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters
Member support is what makes local COVID-19 reporting possible. Support this coverage here.