Everything is changing so quickly these days, especially for homeowners and tenants. Homeowners are confused about what is available to help them with their mortgage, renters don’t know if they can be evicted, and advocates want to know how current policies are impacting the most vulnerable consumers. Unfortunately, up to the minute data just isn’t available as quickly as needed to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At NHRC, we know HUD approved housing counselors are seeing this play out on a day to day basis with consumers they are trying to help. In order to inform advocates and policy makers, we created a short survey asking housing counselors a few questions about what they are seeing and hearing from their clients.

With responses from housing counselors from across the country, a few key pieces of data have become clear:

  • 90% of counselors reported hearing from delinquent borrowers who have not chosen to enter forbearance. The top three reasons counselors hear:
    • Fear of lump sum repayment
    • Did not know they could get a forbearance
    • Not able to get through to their servicer
  • 70% report concerns about effective communication between homeowners and servicers. This lack of effective communication made housing counselors hesitant to support automatic forbearance for those that are delinquent. (As a policy matter, NHRC supports automatic forbearance for borrowers who are 60 day delinquent and not communicating with their servicer; because the alternative is initiating foreclosure with the increased costs and possibility of losing their home during the COVID-19 crisis.)
  • 75% report hearing from tenants that need assistance with rent and/or have questions about their rights.

The information gathered in this survey has been useful in alerting advocates, policy makers, and regulators to what is happening on the ground, right now. Already, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has used the information we gathered to inform a letter they sent to the GSE’s (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Key takeaways from the letters: Communication with consumers about help that is available and access to key data points are imperative to ensure we don’t repeat mistakes that brought on the foreclosure crisis.

The press release with links to the letters can be found here: https://coronavirus.house.gov/news/press-releases/eviction-moratorium-expired-clyburn-urges-action-fannie-freddie-keep-people

A summary of the survey can be found here: https://www.hsgcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Survey-results-Forbearance-and-Delinquency2.pdf

If you are a HUD approved housing counselor and haven’t answered our survey yet, you can access it here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XR2XHKD