For many homeowners, Tuesday is the day when late fees kick in for mortgage payments, adding yet another pressure point for low-income families hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) share that they have tools to help low-income homeowners and renters navigate the complexity of new federal housing laws to see what rules they may benefit from.
“Homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments have several options. Forbearance is guaranteed by the CARES Act for about 70% of American mortgages and is the best option for some,” officials sais. “Others may be able to modify their loan to reduce monthly payments and may prefer this option, and other individuals may prefer to declare bankruptcy if they are eligible.”
These alternatives to forbearance may be better options because for some mortgages, requesting forbearance will mean that one year’s worth of mortgage payments come due all at once at the end of the forbearance period.
“To get mortgage relief, all homeowners will have to provide information and/or documents, some homeowners will be able to do so and get relief online or by phone,” TRLA officials share. “Other homeowners may have to send a formal, written letter called a Request for Information in order to get full information about options that may be available to them.”
TRLA built a tool to help homeowners to navigate ways they can request mortgage relief. The tool guides homeowners through requesting information online, making a phone call, and composing a formal Request for Information in English and in Spanish .
For renters, many will know whether they have a Section 8 voucher or live in public housing owned by the government, but few know about their new rights under the CARES Act. Far fewer know whether they live in the properties covered by the new law.
TRLA developed a map so renters can search to see if they live in a protected property. Tenants in public housing and with Section 8 vouchers are also protected from eviction even though the property may not be listed on the map.
For a comprehensive listing of resources provided by TRLA, visit their website at www.trla.org.