TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Nearly 6 million people could lose their homes within the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Protecting people from evictions has been a priority for most levels of government. However, the housing program manager for Pima County, Marcos Ysmael, says renters are not the only ones struggling to keep a roof over their head.
“Everything has been geared towards rental assistance,” said Ysmael. “The unemployment rates that we have seen are historic. Moderate and even higher income families that were gainfully employed prior to the pandemic unfortunately have been affected.”
Even with a strong housing market, Ysmael says some people have fallen behind on their mortgage payments.
That’s especially true when looking at national trends.
“The first week of March, 0.25% of homeowners were in forbearance,” he said.
Forbearance is basically an agreement between the homeowner and their mortgage company to put a hold on payments for a specific period of time.
“We were approaching 9% in July,” said Ysmael. “August and September that started coming down. I think the last time I checked, we are still [at] around 6%.”
Black Knight Inc., which collects data on the mortgage and real estate industries, shows active forbearance plans are still high.
“I think the fear is it’s going to go back up again with this latest surge [of COVID-19 cases],” Ysmael said.
Pima County offered utility and mortgage assistance last year, but funding dried up fast.
So, where can people get help?
“The State of Arizona still does have their program ‘Save our Home Arizona’,” Ysmael explained.
Save our Home AZ gives financial assistance to homeowners impacted by COVID-19. Ysmael says the main requirements are loss of employment and notifying your mortgage company of your financial situation.
“That’s also the first step in avoiding foreclosure. If your mortgage company is not notified, they have no way of knowing that you’re behind because of the pandemic,” Ysmael said. “The process for foreclosures can go 3 to 6 months. So, it gives homeowners more time. That’s why I think we haven’t seen as much focus on [homeowner] assistance.”
Pima County is set to receive more federal funding through the latest relief package. There is a waiting list for those who need help with their mortgage and utility payments. To get on the waiting list, click HERE.
To visit Save our Home AZ, click HERE.