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HUD Secretary Ben Carson talks affordable housing and the coronavirus pandemic

Secretary Carson addresses the impact the coronavirus is having on the housing market

The housing market has been deeply impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, which has not only put a strain on the U.S. economy but the housing finance sector as well. HousingWire Digital Producer Alcynna Lloyd sat down with the Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to gauge his thoughts on affordable housing and the nation’s lending practices amid the pandemic.

Additionally, Carson explains what HUD and the Federal Housing Administration are doing to address the uptick in forbearance requests from the nation’s financially strained borrowers.

Below you will find two of the seven questions Secretary Carson answered with the full audio.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Alcynna: As a champion for homeownership and affordable housing in America, how is HUD offering relief right now to borrowers so they can stay in their homes given the impact of the coronavirus?

Ben Carson:  Well, we recognize that a major portion of the American Dream is homeownership and that a lot of people are scared they’re going to lose their most valuable investment. And that’s why early on, we came out with forbearance. With a moratorium on foreclosures, it’s incredibly important that people not be worried about losing their homes at a time when they’re worried about losing their life or their loved ones. We’re working with everybody involved down the line to try to make sure we give people the assurance. HUD fully recognizes this is not a permanent situation. This is a temporary situation, this too, will pass. It will go away, and so we have to do things that allow us to bridge the gap.  [For example] When it comes to making mortgage payments if you fall in the category of those severely affected by the virus, and you can’t make your payment for up to 3, 4, 5 or 6 months, we are able to take that payment and move it to the end of your regular mortgage at no interest. So, not only are we talking about foreclosure moratorium, but we actually have mechanisms to take care of people after this is over.

Alcynna: The Spring is typically the busiest home-buying season. Since COVID-19 drastically changes this, what steps is HUD taking to help promote affordable housing to all future homeowners through options like its FHA programs or other initiatives?

Ben Carson: Affordable housing has been a huge issue and something that HousingWire has heard me talk about for years. I recognize this is going to extend far beyond what we’re doing right now, and we want people to recognize that we will always be here and that our goal is to make the American Dream possible, particularly for moderate- and low-income homeowners. Our fundamentals, financials, insurance programs and backers are very solid. So, we’re still going to be here doing the same thing well beyond this crisis. We’ve learned the lessons that were very hard back in 2008, and we’re going to obviously make sure that those things do not occur again because of this temporary situation.

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