National nonprofit credit and housing counseling agency Take Charge America shares steps for those struggling with housing payments
Although the pandemic has impacted the financial lives of millions, one of its largest effects has been on individuals’ housing situations. Since the onset of the pandemic, Americans have missed a combined $83.9 billion in mortgage payments, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, creating undue stress and anxiety about their futures.
“Even as governments across the country begin to lift lingering pandemic restrictions, the effects on housing instability remain a critical issue for millions of homeowners,” said Michael Sullivan, a personal financial consultant with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit and housing counseling agency. “If you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage — or soon will — there are several steps you should take to protect yourself and improve the chances of staying in your home.”
If you’re behind on your housing payments or struggling, Sullivan suggests the following actions:
- Contact your lender. Don’t wait to call your lender until you have missed a payment. Be up front and honest about your situation, asking about potential programs or options they may have available, such as mortgage forbearance or loan modification. The sooner you contact your lender, the more options you’ll likely have available.
- Research housing assistance programs. Nonprofits and government agencies at both national and local levels support individuals struggling with mortgage payments. Homeowners can check out the Fannie Mae website to find information and possible resources for assistance.
- Consider a refinance. Exploring a refinance on your mortgage could potentially make your payment more affordable either through a lower interest rate or extending the timeline to pay off your balance.
- Seek legal help. Depending on the severity of your situation, you may want to find legal assistance to act on your behalf with your lender and negotiate any potential agreement to resolve the issue.
- Get it in writing. Document all your communication with your lenders, banks or servicers. You’ll also want to request any agreements you come to with them in writing. Properly documenting everything will help you if a dispute arises.
- Seek nonprofit housing counseling. If your situation is overwhelming, nonprofit housing counseling agencies, like Take Charge America, can provide you with one-on-one guidance and tailored resources to help you determine the best path forward.
For additional housing resources and assistance, explore housing counseling services from Take Charge America.
About Take Charge America, Inc.
Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency offering financial education and counseling services including credit counseling, debt management, student loan counseling, housing counseling and bankruptcy counseling. It has helped more than 2 million consumers nationwide manage their personal finances and debts. To learn more, visit takechargeamerica.org or call (888) 822-9193.
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