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Biden extends mortgage forbearance, foreclosure relief programs

Amy Scott Feb 17, 2021
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Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Biden extends mortgage forbearance, foreclosure relief programs

Amy Scott Feb 17, 2021
Heard on:
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

More than 2.7 million homeowners are in forbearance, meaning they’ve reduced or paused their mortgage payments during the pandemic.

The Biden administration is giving homeowners with federally-backed mortgages more time before they have to start paying again. The White House announced Tuesday it’s extending a moratorium on foreclosures and the deadline to request mortgage forbearance through June.

More than 600,000 homeowners were set to lose forbearance protections at the end of next month, according to mortgage data provider Black Knight. Now those homeowners can request up to six months of additional relief, and the deadline for new requests was extended through the end of June.

Black Knight economist Andy Walden said the number of homeowners in forbearance has been gradually falling as more people return to work.

“But there will still be a significant number of homeowners struggling with mortgage payments, even when we get to the end of June this year at the current rate of recovery,” Walden said.

When those protections do expire, the Urban Institute’s Laurie Goodman is not expecting a lot of people to lose their homes to foreclosure as happened during the Great Recession.

“Home price appreciation had been very robust before the pandemic and has remained robust throughout the pandemic,” Goodman said. “And the result of that is borrowers have equity in their home.”

If people’s homes are worth more than they owe on their mortgage, Goodman said, they can sell if they need to with their credit intact.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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