The number of homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments has doubled since the pandemic hit last spring, according to a report released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
As of December 2020, 6 percent of mortgages were in delinquency. There were more than 2 million “seriously delinquent” mortgages, with borrowers who were more than 90 days behind on making their payments. Additionally, the bureau estimated 8.8 million tenant households were behind on rent payments.
COVID-19 relief programs have reduced the number of foreclosures and evictions, though the bureau estimated that 11 million families, or almost 10 percent of U.S. households, may be at risk of losing their homes as the relief measures expire. There were 2.7 million borrowers in active forbearance as of January 2021; of those, more than 900,000 will have been in forbearance for more than a year come April 2021.
Acting CFPB Director Dave Uejio acknowledged the efforts of mortgage lenders and landlords to aid borrowers and renters throughout the pandemic.
“Most mortgage servicers are working hard to engage with the record number of homeowners in forbearance and the many other homeowners struggling to make payments,” Uejio said in a blog post.
Of the seriously delinquent borrowers, 263,000 are not yet in forbearance. The bureau warned that should the relief efforts expire before these borrowers participate in them, their options would be limited to avoid foreclosure. The CFPB noted, however, that most borrowers who have exited forbearance have easily been able to resume their payments.
“The CFPB will engage with homeowners to help them know they have options, including sharing information with our most vulnerable consumers and communities,” Uejio said.
The report found that Black and hispanic families were more than twice as likely to report being behind on their housing payments as white families. Additionally, almost 10 percent of renters said they expect to be evicted within the coming two months, with the highest rates also among Black and hispanic households.
“We will be working hard to understand these interlocking risks,” Uejio said. “We are committed to using all of our authorities to address the risks posed by this historic level of housing insecurity while there is still time to avoid full-on catastrophe.”