Housing Counselor’s Corner: Working with Lenders When Facing Financial Hardship

The ongoing public health threat posed by COVID-19 stands to impact everyone. While much is unknown, experts agree that the economic impact is real and potentially could last long after businesses are back in business. Many community members have lost jobs or had hours cut. While it’s important to pay your bills on time and we encourage that, we also know that is not always possible, especially now depending on your situation.

If you are currently experiencing financial hardship or do in the coming months, be up front with lenders. This includes calling them to explore options if you are unable to pay a bill in its entirety on time. You can also continue to work on your personal finance goals by changing your budget to fit your current situation. Below are more helpful tips.

For Homeowners

  • Contact your mortgage servicer if you are unable to make your mortgage payment. Most mortgage servicers will try and work with you if you are communicating with them. Most companies are offering loan forbearance plans or loan modification plans for homeowners impacted by COVID-19. This doesn’t mean that what you owe is forgiven, it just means that what you pay each month is temporarily lowered or suspended. Want more information? Learn more.

For Renters

  • Contact your landlord if you are unable to make your rent payment. They may be willing to work out a repayment plan. If you are concerned about eviction, know that your landlord cannot evict you without a court order and courts have stopped hearing unlawful detainer cases at least until April 6th. Learn more.

For those with Student Loans

  • Payments on federally held student loans have been suspended through September 30, 2020. Student loans that are not held by the federal government are not eligible for temporary suspension at this time. Some examples include the Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) Program, loans owned by commercial lenders and some Perkins Loans that are held by the institution you attended. 
  • Some things to remember:
    • You shouldn’t be asked to pay a fee to suspend your payments. 
    • If you are not eligible for the automatic suspension of student loan payments, contact your student loan servicer. You may want to investigate an income-driven repayment plan, forbearance or deferment. 

Want to learn more? Check out this link

Information about Scams

During any time of crisis, you may see an uptick in scams. Some general advice to ensure you don’t fall victim to any include:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know!
  • Watch out for email claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations.
  • Do your homework if you’re thinking about donating to a charity or relief fund. 

Learn more about what to do if you encounter a scam.

It’s a tough time and we’re here to help. If you would like to talk to a housing counselor please email housingcounseling@piedmonthousing.org.