Many people are still suffering the consequences of natural disasters. For example, in 2017 there was Hurricane María in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma in Florida, and the devastating wildfires in California. Even after immediate needs like shelter and food are met, financial hardships from a disaster can last for months and even years. It’s important for people to know the federal government programs and services available to them, especially housing-related assistance, as they work to rebuild.
In Puerto Rico, for instance, there are still many people living without electricity post-Hurricane María. Faced with post-disaster hardships, some homeowners in Puerto Rico have become delinquent on their mortgage payments. People in other places, like the U.S. Virgin Islands, face similar challenges.
If you are struggling to make your mortgage payment or can’t meet your reverse mortgage obligations, such as paying taxes and insurance, in the wake of a natural disaster, there are resources and potential options to avoid foreclosure. You may first want to contact a HUD-approved housing counselor. Housing counselors are available for free or at low cost to assist you with information and advice if you can’t make your mortgage payment.
Primary federal government disaster resources
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Assistance programs to help individuals and families with necessary expenses and serious needs not covered by insurance. The current application deadline for Puerto Rico is June 18, 2018.
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Foreclosure Moratorium. This moratorium on FHA-insured loans “pauses” the initiation or start of a foreclosure as well as pauses any foreclosures in place. The current moratorium in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is set to expire on August 16, 2018.
Finally, for community service organizations, another resource we offer is Your Money, Your Goals. Social service agencies and financial institutions in Puerto Rico and elsewhere have used this material to help the people they serve learn more about a variety of financial topics. Your Money, Your Goals is a set of financial empowerment materials for organizations to help people meet their financial goals by increasing their knowledge, skills, and resources. The Your Money, Your Goals toolkit is available for free on the Bureau’s website in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
As people tackle the financial challenges stemming from natural disasters, these and other resources can help you understand the programs and educational resources available to protect your home.
Updated on May 17, 2018, to include the extended FHA moratorium deadline for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.