On February 25, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would extend the foreclosure and real estate owned (REO) eviction moratoriums from March 31, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The foreclosure moratorium applies only to Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) single-family mortgages, while the REO eviction moratorium applies to properties acquired by the GSEs through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions. The extension announcement is welcome news for counties as they work to address the housing affordability and insecurity crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the forbearance and eviction moratoriums, FHFA announced an additional three-month extension of COVID-19 forbearance, allowing borrowers to be in forbearance for up to eighteen months. However, this extension is only available to borrowers who were in a COVID-19 forbearance plan as of February 28, 2021. FHFA further announced that the COVID-19 payment deferral for borrowers with a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac -backed mortgage can now cover up to eighteen months of missed payments. This deferral plan allows borrowers to make up missed payments when their home is sold, refinanced, or at mortgage maturity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the pre-existing housing affordability and insecurity crisis. Counties support assistance to families to maintain stable housing conditions both during and after the public health crisis, and the actions taken by FHFA are essential to helping counties ensure the safety and well-being of their residents.
Additionally, Counties applaud the inclusion of a $10 billion Homeowner Assistance Fund within the American Rescue Plan Act, which will assist homeowners struggling due to the pandemic with direct assistance for mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities and other housing related costs. This financial assistance is provided directly to states and territories will help families stay in their homes during the public health emergency. The American Rescue Plan Act also includes $21.6 billion in emergency rental assistance for states and eligible units of local government, including counties with 200,000 residents or more. This comes after Congress appropriated $25 billion in emergency rental assistance in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
NACo will continue to monitor FHFA’s actions around foreclosure and eviction moratoriums and advocate for additional assistance for both homeowners and renters during the pandemic and beyond. NACo has also created a COVID-19 Recovery Clearinghouse where counties can request and find specific information regarding funding, vaccine distribution and more.
- Affordable Housing Toolkit for Counties
- Webinar: Effectively Distributing Rental Assistance: Evidence for Local Governments
- NACo Resource Hub: COVID-19 Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program