Fund Will Help Ensure Vulnerable New Mexico Residents Can Keep Their Homes
Homewise seeks foundations and municipalities to join in an unprecedented partnership to help low-income homeowners weather the COVID19 crisis and its economic consequences. With over 30 years’ experience helping to create successful homeowners and strengthen neighborhoods, Homewise has launched the initiative to help vulnerable residents who may be at risk of losing their homes due to a lack of ability to pay mortgages.
The Homewise Emergency Mortgage Assistance Fund is launching with financial support from the City of Santa Fe, the Albuquerque Community Foundation, the Santa Fe Community Foundation, Avalon Trust and Wells Fargo.
The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Fund will help those people most exposed in the COVID19 crisis to ensure they can continue to make their mortgage payments and keep their homes. Housing costs are most households’ biggest monthly expense. Currently, no federal program exists to help low-income homeowners who do not qualify for unemployment benefits or the relief checks others can use to cover this expense. Right now the only clear option for homeowners is a temporary forbearance of their monthly mortgage payments. Federal regulators are requiring mortgage servicers of all mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer up to 12 months of forbearance to borrowers. This allows mortgage servicers to suspend monthly mortgage payments for up to 12 months. However, homeowners must pay that money back in one large lump sum at the end of the forbearance period or through a repayment plan over a certain number of months (on top of their regular payment), both of which can be very unaffordable to low-income homeowners. These options do not meet the needs of the most vulnerable homeowners who are unlikely to go from no or low employment to being able to pay a huge lump sum or twice their monthly mortgage in such a short time.
The Homewise Emergency Mortgage Assistance Fund will prioritize those who are most vulnerable and have lost the majority or all of their household income due to COVID19 related economic conditions. “Homewise supported homeowners through the mortgage crisis and great recession that began in 2008; we know how critical it is for individuals and families not to lose their homes to foreclosure. It’s a traumatic process that, in the worst-case scenario, can increase the number of homeless people in our community, putting further strain on limited social services. Foreclosures also have negative impacts on neighborhoods; homes can remain vacant and become problem properties creating public safety issues. The social and economic consequences of foreclosure can and must be avoided by proactively helping homeowners now,” said Mike Loftin, CEO of Homewise.
Homewise will administer the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Fund, and is partnering with several local agencies and organizations to conduct outreach to those who need it most. Applicants will be screened based on program qualifications including financial need and access to other forms of assistance. Homeowners interested in more information can call Homewise at 505-983-9473.
Homewise, Inc. is a nonprofit Community development Financial Institution (CDFI) that works throughout New Mexico to help create successful homeowners and strengthen neighborhoods. Homewise empowers and supports clients on their path to homeownership through each step of the process with financial education and coaching, real estate services, affordable mortgage lending and down payment assistance, refinance and home improvement lending. Homewise strengthens neighborhoods by increasing homeownership through real estate development and disinvested property rehabilitation, and revitalizing communities to benefit existing residents. Since its founding in 1986, over 16,200 households have attended their financial workshops. During that time over 5,100 people have purchased homes, over 2,200 have made energy efficient home improvements, more than 730 have refinanced their mortgages and the organization itself has built over 750 high quality, affordable homes. www.homewise.org