Re: Extending the Currently Existing Moratorium for Foreclosures on FHA-Backed Mortgages
Dear Secretary Carson and General Deputy Assistant Secretary Wade:
We are New Jersey’s Joint Commission on Puerto Rico Disaster Relief (the “Commission”) and write on behalf of the thousands of devastated homeowners of Puerto Rico. Specifically, we seek to address the agency’s efforts to further grant relief to families with Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) backed mortgages on homes located in Puerto Rico. In Mortgage Letter 2018-02 dated March 1, 2018, your agency announced a 60-day extension of its current 180-day foreclosure moratorium for all “FHA Title II forward mortgages for borrowers whose property or place of employment is located in the Presidentially-Declared Major Disaster Areas for Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria DR-4339.” While we applaud your decision to extend the current moratorium, we respectfully request you consider a further extension, albeit minor, to afford the relief desperately needed by families on the island.
The Commission has been involved in providing much-needed aid to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck the island. A delegation of our Commission accompanied New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy this past December in order to assess the needs and further support the recovery efforts. The storm has caused many families in Puerto Rico to engage in complex processes in order to file insurance claims. Many have had to rely on the unexpected costs of maintaining expensive generators for electricity—and all families have struggled with the surge in pricing for food and other basic living needs. For many of these families, any minor increase in the cost of living can be devastating. According to official reports from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thousands of families remain without power. Senior citizens have been adversely affected and are at risk of losing their homes. Allowing the moratorium for FHA loans to lapse this May will further negatively impact an economically vulnerable population of United States Citizens and lead to a destructive foreclosure process, further exacerbating problems on the island.
As such, we humbly request that your agency consider extending the moratorium an additional year. This support would assist homeowners and provide them additional time to recover from the devastating impact of the hurricane. This will enable more time for the electrical grid to be restored to 100% capacity and for the water aqueduct systems to be fully repaired. Such restoration will allow for the delivery of basic needs, including food, light and water. It will also provide the vulnerable population of seniors still living on the island the opportunity to avoid foreclosure, which can also have, among other things, a negative financial impact on FHA insurance funds.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
New Jersey’s Joint Commission on Puerto Rico Disaster Relief
Rev. Dr. Joshua Rodriguez (Pastor Cityline Church & VP National Latino Evangelical Coalition)
Peggy Anastos (former Chief of Staff, Office of Attorney General & N.J. Puerto Rican Congress) Vice Chair
Ana Montero (CEO, American Red Cross NJ)
Arlene Quiñones Perez (Partner, DeCotiis & former President of Hispanic Bar Association)
Jay Jimenez (Chief of Staff, N.J. Department of Transportation)
Carmen Garcia (N.J. State Parole Board & Trustee of Hispanic Bar Association)
Lydia Valencia (CEO, N.J. Puerto Rican Congress)
Hector Ruiz (Partner, Walsh Pizzi & President of Hispanic Bar Association)
Gualberto “Gil” Medina (Executive Vice President, CBRE)
Tonio Burgos (President, Tonio Burgos & Associates)
Arianna Mouré (Associate, Florio Perrucci & Trustee of Hispanic Bar Association)
Sam Delgado (V.P. of External Affairs, Verizon)
Alixon Collazos (LUPE Fund)
Idida Rodriguez (1868 Public Affairs)