Hurricane Irma Federal and GSE Communications
Emergency Disaster Aid
Today, President Donald Trump received legislation that both the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed which raises the government’s borrowing authority, funds federal programs through December 8, 2017, and provides $15.25 billion in emergency disaster aid. Legislators hurried to approve the legislation in the midst of a projection that government disaster aid would run out as Hurricane Irma arrived in Florida. The President is expected to sign the bill into law expeditiously.
Reuters reports, “The $15.25 billion in emergency funding includes $7.4 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, $450 million for the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program and $7.4 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
Additionally, the OCC, the Fed, and the FDIC (Agencies) issued statements recognizing the impact of Hurricane Irma and explaining that the Agencies will provide regulatory assistance to affected financial institutions. The Agencies also encourages financial institutions to work with borrowers in affected communities, stating that sensible adjustments to loans in affected communities will not be subject to examiner criticism. The Agencies’ full statements can be found here.
Servicers should be aware that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued reminders regarding the Servicer’s responsibilities and various relief options available for borrowers affected by Hurricane Irma. These statements mirror advice recently released for Hurricane Harvey, including:
- Initial period of forbearance to affected borrowers, with a potential extension subsequent to investor approval.
- Delay or suspension of foreclosures in affected areas
- Temporary suspension or reduction in mortgage payments for up to ninety days if the servicer believes the disaster has negatively affected the value or the borrower’s ability to pay or reside in the home.
- The Servicer, despite lack of immediate contact with the impacted homeowner, may grant temporary relief.
- Waiving assessments of penalties or late fees against homeowners with disaster-damaged homes.
- Refraining from reporting forbearance or delinquencies caused by the disaster to the credit bureaus
- Credit underwriting and appraisal documents can be up to 180 days old at time of closing.
- Consideration of standard relief policies, such as forbearance or mortgage modifications, or borrowers who are employed in eligible disaster areas but reside in unaffected areas
Proctor will continue to monitor federal, state and investor requirements for disaster assistance and will provide updates as they develop.