With end of moratorium, more than 8 million households risk foreclosure or eviction
Even as the nation recovers from the, more than 2 million homeowners are behind on their mortgages and face being forced out of their homes within weeks, a new Harvard University housing report warns.
Most homeowners at risk of foreclosure are either low-income families or families of color, said researchers who released the 2021 State of the Nation’s Housing report. Congress has spent $ 10 billion to help homeowners catch up on payments, but it’s unclear whether that funding will reach families before mortgage companies start sending foreclosure notices, according to Researchers.
Separately, millions of additional tenants are “on the brink of eviction,” Harvard researchers have found. Census data shows 6 million households are still in arrears with rent and could be evicted in late June, when federal eviction protections expire.
The Center for Disease Control’s order ending some evictions and federal cancellations of federally-funded home foreclosures both expire on June 30. Housing advocates have called on the Biden administration to extend the two, but there is no indication that an extension will occur.
“With so many tenants in financial difficulty, a looming wave of evictions is causing concern,” the Harvard report said.
More than 7 million homeowners have taken advantage of the moratorium on foreclosures voted as part of theLast spring. The provision was then extended by Biden’s White House. As of March 2021, most of these homeowners have started paying off lenders and some are even up to date with their lenders. But that still leaves about 2.1 million behind on their mortgages, the researchers said.
Of those, approximately 325,000 homeowners have a Federal Housing Administration loan and are at least 60 days in arrears. They are most likely people of color, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development said on Wednesday.
Karen King, who is five months behind on her mortgage in Birmingham, Alabama, told CBS MoneyWatch that she was “terrified” that her house could be taken away.
King, 51, a staff member of the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority, fell behind on payments last year after his job shifted him to part-time hours during the pandemic. She now owes $ 4,200. King resumed his full-time working hours in January, but was only able to pay off his normal monthly mortgage amount, no more.
King has said she will have to try to make a special payment deal with her mortgage provider, but she’s nervous to have this conversation because she’s unsure if the lender will agree to an unusual payment plan.
“I can’t necessarily pay extra on the mortgage so hopefully I can find something with them,” King said, adding that she was prepared to make five payments when her home loan ended. “In fact, I would prefer a postponement,” she said.
People of color like King have been hit particularly hard by lost earnings during the pandemic, Harvard researchers said. As a result, 17% of black homeowners, 16% of Hispanics, and 16% of Asian-American homeowners were behind on their mortgage at the start of 2021 – more than twice the share of 7% of white homeowners.
“For households with secure jobs and good quality housing, their homes were a safe haven from the pandemic,” Harvard researcher Chris Herbert said in a statement. “But for millions of people who are struggling to cover rent or mortgage, their housing situation has become increasingly precarious and these disparities are likely to persist even as the economy recovers.”
The homeownership gap remains
The report also discusses the sharp increase in house prices since mid-2020, the shortage of available-for-sale homes across the country, and the homeownership gap between black and white Americans.
The homeownership rate for blacks was 46% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 74% for white Americans, researchers said. There was a slight statistical improvement in the gap, but the numbers are “still significant by historical standards,” they said.
The gap remains largely because of the income gap between black and white households, the researchers said. In 2019, the median income for a white headed household was $ 76,100; for a household headed by a black person, it was only $ 45,000, according to census data.
“Accumulating the savings needed for the down payment and closing costs is difficult for most first-time buyers, but especially for renter households of color,” according to the report, which was funded by Wells Fargo, Habitat for Humanity, the ‘National Association of Real Estate Agents. and the National Association of Home Builders.
Putting more money into the down payment assistance programs that state and local governments offer and targeting those dollars on people of color would help close the gap, the report recommended.