CFPB notes some 10% of U.S. households at risk of eviction, foreclosure; working with other agencies to mitigate

Issuing a report on housing insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Monday said it was working with federal agencies and consumers to help mitigate a potential flood of home foreclosures and evictions.

“The good news is that actions taken by both the public and private sector have, so far, prevented many families from losing their homes during the height of the public health crisis,” said Dave Uejio, the bureau’s acting director, in a blog post Monday. “However, as legal protections expire in the months ahead, over 11 million families – nearly 10% of U.S. households – are at risk of eviction and foreclosure.

“Put simply: we have very little time to prevent millions of families from losing their homes,” he said.

The report released Monday shows that the number of homeowners behind on their mortgages has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic to 6% as of December 2020. That level of delinquency is more than at any time since 2010, the peak of the Great Recession, it noted.

The report, based on aggregated metrics that are based on housing data available in December 2020, also showed that:

  • 2.1 million homeowners are more than 90 days behind on payments, a key benchmark for being “seriously delinquent” in mortgage payments – five times the number of families more than 90 days behind on their mortgage before the pandemic began.
  • Collectively, these households are estimated to owe almost $90 billion in deferred principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments.
  • Black and Hispanic families are more than twice as likely to report being behind on their housing payments than white families.
  • An estimated 8.8 million tenant households are behind on their rent.
  • Nearly 10% of renters reported that they’re likely to be evicted in the next two months, with the rates highest among Black and Hispanic households.

Uejio, noting concerns about the potential impact of a “mass wave” of evictions and foreclosures on families, said the bureau will take whatever steps it can to help keep people in their homes and, where that’s not possible, to do what it can to help them preserve equity and find other housing.

Among the steps Uejio cited are:

  • He is directing policy teams to consider all of the CFPB’s available tools to preserve people’s homes and protect them from unnecessary foreclosure. “We’re continuing to work closely with our federal agency partners, including the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), on measures to ensure homeowners receive the assistance they need to avoid unnecessary foreclosures,” he said. “We want families to keep their homes where that makes sense and, where it doesn’t, that families have a chance to explore other options that let them preserve as much of their investment as possible.”
  • In close collaboration with its federal agency partners, the CFPB is providing homeowners and renters resources to help them understand their rights and protections, be aware of scams, and learn how best to request forbearance or mortgage relief. He said that roughly 263,000 families are at least 90 days behind on their mortgage and not in forbearance. “The CFPB will engage with homeowners to help them know they have options, including sharing information with our most vulnerable consumers and communities,” he said. “We will continue to share updates as we expand our work in this area.”

“This report sets the stage for more work by the CFPB to develop options to head off a national foreclosure and eviction crisis,” Uejio said. “I’ve directed our research teams to redouble their efforts to track delinquencies, foreclosures, and evictions to get a firm picture of what’s happening across U.S. households. We’re looking at the complaint data we collect and data from other sources, like public data from mortgage servicers, to gain as complete a picture of the current crisis as possible to drive our actions.”

He added that if a consumer is having trouble getting in touch with their mortgage servicer, they can submit a complaint through the CFPB here.

Housing insecurity and the COVID-19 pandemic (CFPB report, March 2021)