Sunday, September 23, 2018

HUD extends foreclosure moratorium for Puerto Rico, USVI

By on March 1, 2018

The announcement by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, comes on the heels of aggressive lobbying by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González. (Felipe Torres/CB)

SAN JUAN —Residents of Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands who have a mountain of mortgage debt piled sky high breathed a sigh of relief today when news broke that moratoriums on payments had been extended another 60 days.

The announcement by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), Ben Carson, comes on the heels of aggressive lobbying by Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, who had been in conversations with Carson and other members of Congress to push the March deadline for payment out another two months as a mechanism for a population still reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria.

Government data reveal that by December 2017, one-third of homeowners faced delays in their mortgage payments and 90,000 were behind with their payments.

The resident commissioner obtained the information on the moratorium extension on Thursday morning, when she received a phone call from Carson and HUD Undersecretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude, who was recently in Puerto Rico for the announcement of the $1.5 billion loan for recovery efforts, which the commissioner had included in the first supplementary-aid kit.

González, a Republican & member of Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party, lead a bipartisan effort along with Rep. Darren M. Soto (D-Fla.) and the delegate of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Stacey Plaskett, who is also a Democrat. The effort included 22 members of Congress, who requested the moratorium for storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and the USVI.

HUD assessed the claim by announcing Thursday it will extend the current period of 180 days for foreclosure moratoriums from Hurricane Maria by an additional 60 days.

That extension is related to the disaster-area declaration date and applies only to Individual Assistance Areas within disaster zones within Puerto Rico and the USVI.

The moratorium extension applies to FHA Title II mortgages for lenders whose property or workplace is in disaster zones as declared by President Trump (Hurricane Maria DR-4339 and USVI/Hurricane Maria DR-4330); applies to new foreclosures and foreclosures already in the process.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló thanked Carson “for extending the moratorium so U.S. citizens residing on the island enjoy relief during the recovery process, after the onslaught of two catastrophic hurricanes.”

Maria fueled a decade-long financial crisis in Puerto Rico, which culminated in May with the island filing the largest bankruptcy in U.S. government history. Puerto Rico has about $71.5 billion in bond debt, and around $50 billion in unfunded public pension liabilities.

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