As the government shutdown stretches on, mortgage lenders and others in the housing industry are beginning to step up to help those most affected by the inability of the president and Congress to agree on a budget to fund the government.
More than one month ago, President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress disagreed over funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico – Trump wants $5.7 billion for the wall and the Democrats don’t want to give him anything.
There are approximately 800,000 federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay due to the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration has already asked the mortgage industry to help those workers with their mortgages, but a group of nearly two dozen congressional Democrats want more protection than that.
Earlier this month, a group of 22 Democrats introduced legislation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that would protect federal workers and their families from foreclosures, evictions, and loan defaults during a government shutdown.
And now, some lenders in the mortgage industry are responding to the FHA’s call for help.
Ally Financial announced it is expanding its assistance program to provide aid and resources for customers affected by the shutdown. Some of these assistance programs include transaction refunds, waivers and payment deferrals, and are used during critical times such as natural disasters and economic crises.
“Our hearts go out to any individual experiencing financial challenges and, given the extended duration of the partial shutdown, we want to assist our customers who are burdened by this as best as we can,” said Diane Morais, Ally Bank president of consumer and commercial banking products. “Our focus is on truly being an ally in these uncertain times and providing relief that, if needed, can help.”
Some of the assistance those affected by the shutdown can utilize include refunds of transaction fees, refunds of non-sufficient funds fees, CD early withdrawal penalty waivers, expedited check fee waivers, wire fee waivers, late charge waivers and payment extensions.
Homesnap, a multiple listing site, announced it is launching a program to pay the mortgage or rent payment in February of 10 government workers or contractors affected by the shutdown.
Those affected by the shutdown can take a photo or video or write a few words about what their home means to them through social media using the hashtags #MyHomeMeans and #ShutdownStories. The company will be accepting submissions through Jan. 31, 2019.
First Financial Northwest, the holding company for First Financial Northwest Bank, announced it will also help its customers who have been affected by the shutdown.
The bank announced that its customers who are current federal employees who have been furloughed may be eligible for help with payments on existing loans or may qualify for temporary relief loans in an amount up to twice their net monthly pay direct deposited to a First Financial Northwest Bank checking account, interest free for 90 days. Customers currently in the process of obtaining a loan may be eligible to receive an additional 30-day rate lock at no additional cost.
“We are proud to step in and help our hardworking, dedicated customers affected by the federal government shutdown,” said Joseph Kiley, First Financial president and CEO.
“We are committed to supporting our customers in any way we can to find solutions to ease their financial burdens during these uncertain times and encourage them to reach out so we can get them assistance as soon as possible,” Kiley said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our communities every day.”