CPC housing counselors offer help for households in foreclosure
If you’ve missed a mortgage payment recently, you’re not alone.
Data from Black Knight, a mortgage and real estate data and analytics company, indicates that 1.98 million properties were either 30 days or more past due or in foreclosure, as of April 2023.
Shelley Peterson, Community Progress Council’s Director of Housing Education and Counseling Services, said her team is seeing an uptick in tough situations locally in York County. Before the pandemic rose to its heights in 2020, about 80 percent of the work that the Housing Education and Counseling team did was around credit repair, budgeting, and other pre-purchase education and preparation, with the remaining 20 percent of time dedicated to foreclosure prevention.
Now, that’s flipped on its head.
A sellers’ market
“It’s a sellers market, interest rates are high,” Peterson said. “There’s not a lot of pre-purchase interest.”
As COVID-era protections for homeowners end — including the expiration of the federal foreclosure moratorium in August 2021 — the backlog of foreclosure activity is coming to a head. CBS News in April cited stats from real estate data provider ATTOM that show lenders repossessed nearly 96,000 properties during the first three months of 2023, up 22% from the same period last year.
Locally, Community Progress Council is seeing an even more drastic increase. Housing counselors worked with 47 York County families in various states of default and delinquency or foreclosure in the first three months of 2023 — a nearly 490% increase over the same period last year.
“There’s a lot of folks who are facing foreclosure and don’t know that there are resources,” Peterson said. “But it’s good to see people at the stage where, maybe they didn’t pay the mortgage last month, they’re not sure if they can pay this month.”
Housing counselors can help
Community Progress Council housing counselors, certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can help at this stage with a crisis budget. They can also call the loan servicer with the participant while they are together in the office. This outreach helps the participant learn to advocate for themselves, but it also helps the lender to see the participant is invested in their house and cares about maintaining ownership.
Oftentimes, a loan modification can be started, which would re-start a homeowner’s 30-year loan period, resulting in lower monthly mortgage payments over the extended period of time.
Homeowners may also qualify for the Homeowners’ Emergency Assistance Program, which helps people in foreclosure due to divorce, death of a spouse, illness, lost employment or other no-fault reasons.
In addition to helping homeowners complete their application, CPC also supports with crisis budgeting to help families handle their mortgage payments and other financial needs moving forward.
Support for seniors
Oftentimes, failure to pay property taxes can result in a tax sale, more common for seniors who own their home outright and thereby receive a tax bill once a year, rather than setting aside payments in escrow. With the support of Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund (PHARE) grant funding through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, Community Progress Council offers help specifically to seniors on a fixed income to cover their property taxes. Participants receiving this support are then required to engage in counseling to create a spending plan that helps them to save each month to cover their tax burden.
Mary, quoted below, first reached out to Community Progress Council for assistance with a mortgage delinquency. Our Housing team assisted Mary in completing the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund (PAHAF) application and submitting it to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. We also assisted Mary in completing a loss mitigation application through her lender, and worked on creating a monthly household budget. Mary was approved for PAHAF, her mortgage was reinstated and she is now back on track, setting aside a portion of her fixed income each month to address future mortgage payments.
“If it wasn’t for [my Housing counselor, Monique], I don’t think I would’ve been awarded the grant. My husband passed. He was the one who looked on all the finances. Whatever was needed, Monique helped us through it. She made sure that all of the “I”s were dotted and the “T”s were crossed. She called the bank several times to follow up. We worked together for two or three months, and kept coming back until we finally got the papers and everything all together. I still work on that budget, from month to month. I save dollars to put with the next month. So every month I put that budget together and that’s what I live off of from month to month, including my utilities and such. I have a part-time job at a receptionist’s office, and that works also into the budget. I do refer people to the Housing program for counseling if they ever need it. And I still call Monique, I’ll get on the phone and call her or send her an email. She helped me through it. She’s still helping me. You can only get so much help from the bank. We need some hands-on help.”
And hands-on help is exactly what Community Progress Council is here for.
“Foreclosure is often kept secret,” Peterson said. “People don’t talk about it. That’s why we try to share information and encourage homeowners to reach out sooner than later. There is help available.”
Learn more about the foreclosure prevention and other housing and financial education and counseling services offered by Community Progress Council at https://www.yorkcpc.org/housing-financial-education.