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Help available for renters, homeowners struggling to pay for housing during pandemic

Help available for renters, homeowners struggling to pay for housing during pandemic
Posted at 4:10 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 16:12:28-04

Many homeowners and renters are still struggling to make their monthly housing payments. In fact, according to a survey done by Apartment List, 31% of them were unable to make their full housing payment this month.

“The percentage of people struggling to pay their housing cost is definitely going up,” said Rob Warnock with Apartment List.

May’s 31% is up from 24% of homeowners and renters who were unable to pay their rents and mortgages in April.

“Of the people who weren’t able to pay their full housing cost, about 40% said they had made some sort of arrangement,” Warnock added. “Presumably, despite not being able to pay their full housing cost, it was under some kind of arrangement made with their landlord or lender.”

That means 60% of homeowners and renters made no arrangements and, essentially, may not be taking full advantage of provisions Congress passed in the CARES Act to help them.

“Anybody with a federally backed mortgages has the rights, under the stimulus, to delay their mortgages payments for six months,” said Kimball Parker. “But they need to request it specifically.”

Parker is the CEO of the company SixFifty, which has created two free websites to help those still struggling with housing costs. The first, Hellolender.org, makes it easier for homeowners to access the help provided by Congress. The website has drafted a letter that borrowers can send directly to their lender, requesting the specific forbearance help outlined by Congress.

“We saw banks ushering people into their own forbearance programs which had terms that were not nearly generous as the federal stimulus,” Parkers said. “So, we developed this letter so that people could specifically request to delay their payments under the federal stimulus.”

SixFifty’s second site, Hellolandlord.org, is for renters.

“It writes a letter to the landlord, informing them that they can’t pay rent and that evictions are likely barred under the federal stimulus,” said Parkers.

Around 3,000 people have used these letters in the last four weeks, since the sites launched. It is unclear how many will need the sites in June, as analysts with Apartment List are unsure if the number of Americans struggling to make their monthly housing payment will continue to rise in June.

“In June, we are in this place where certain parts of the economy are reopening. Some people are being able to start working again,” said Warnock. “I think that if people are continuing to get laid off at the rate, they are getting laid off then the number could get worse, but June may also be the turning point.”

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.