Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón (R-PR), Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) and Representative Darren Soto (D-FL) led a bipartisan letter to Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), last week asking the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to extend its moratorium on foreclosures in Puerto Rico and the USVI for 90 days. HUD announced soon after receiving the letter the FHA would be extending the moratorium by 60 days.
The original moratorium gave 180 days of protection from foreclosures in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 180 days out from the hurricanes that ravaged the islands, basic repairs and rebuilding have not yet been accomplished. Continuing blackouts in Puerto Rico add to the challenges faced by many residents who have not had electricity restored yet. Many residences are still lacking roofs and water and sewer service continues to be uncertain.
Under the extension, homeowners living in the federally-declared disaster area would have their moratorium extended if their ability to pay their mortgage has been directly affected by the hurricanes, or if a household member has died or been incapacitated as a result of the disaster.
The FHA is also allowing homeowners to roll their missed payments into a second mortgage instead of having to catch up. This is another request made in the letter, which was signed by twenty-two members of Congress in addition to González Colón, Plaskett and Soto.
The letter points out that many people who were facing foreclosure live in areas which do not have electricity yet. “Without power,” the congressmen and women said, people have little chance of earning enough money to pay their mortgage, and it is “unrealistic” to think that they will be able to make their payments.
What’s more, the letter reported, many people facing foreclosure are not even aware of it. Some have left their homes because they are unlivable, some were evacuated to States on the mainland, and some assumed that the foreclosure moratorium was automatic. That is not the case.
The FHA is not providing the full 90 days requested by the congressional letter, but is offering an additional 60 days.
Due to the extensive damage…HUD is exercising its authority to provide an extension of the current foreclosure moratorium for an additional 60 days in only those counties that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared to be eligible for Individual Assistance (Affected Counties) for an additional 60 days. This extension will expire onMay 18, 2018 for Hurricane Maria impacted areas and applies to the initiation of foreclosures and foreclosures already in process.