U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said only homeowners who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis will qualify for new government programs that let borrowers put off mortgage payments.
“If people don’t have jobs and people have hardships, they can forbear,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC television interview on Wednesday. “If people do have jobs, we expect those people to continue paying mortgages.”
The US$2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last week lets homeowners and businesses hurt by the pandemic seek temporary relief from monthly mortgage payments. The legislation doesn’t specify how consumers will be required to prove hardship. Mortgage servicers aren’t allowed to demand documentation from homeowners. Those borrowers will simply have to attest that they’re struggling, according to the text of the legislation.
Regulators including the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Department of Housing and Urban Development also have called for forbearance to be offered. FHFA Director Mark Calabria has said that the new rules are not meant to be a “mortgage holiday,” but are put in place only for borrowers who really need it.