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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a coalition of 26 attorneys general, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson requesting further action to protect senior homeowners during the COVID-19 public health emergency. In today’s letter, the coalition argues that action is necessary so that senior homeowners who have a HUD-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) – also known as a “reverse mortgage” – are given a fair opportunity to retain their home amidst the public health emergency.
"Our nation’s historic public health and economic crisis not only disproportionally affects the well-being of our seniors, it risks their ability to afford their homes," said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. "We’re urging HUD Secretary Ben Carson to put additional protections in place for adults in their mid-60’s and older who have reverse mortgages. As the pandemic continues, so will our efforts to safeguard Americans whose wealth and financial well-being are most at risk."
It is anticipated that many homeowners with reverse mortgages will have trouble making required property tax and insurance payments during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It is therefore essential that seniors are protected from unnecessary foreclosures, as they may not have anywhere else safe to go given the current crisis. In today’s letter, the coalition applauds HUD’s initial response to protect senior citizens with reverse mortgages, but argues that protections for seniors must continue to evolve and expand to meet the impact of the public health emergency.
In the letter, the coalition urges HUD to implement the following recommendations:
Attorney General Becerra is committed to protecting Californians and Americans across the country during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Last week, Attorney General Becerra sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria requesting further action to protect homeowners during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This month, Attorney General Becerra called on the Trump Administration to exempt COVID-19 monetary relief from debt collection activities and to continue enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act. He also issued guidance to help tenants understand their rights if they are unable to pay rent. The Attorney General called on the Trump Administration to withdraw a proposal that threatens to undermine the Community Reinvestment Act and limits access to critical financial services for low- and moderate-income communities. Additionally, Attorney General Becerra urged the federal government to instate a special enrollment period on HealthCare.Gov to help people access healthcare coverage during COVID-19. Last month, Attorney General Becerra called on Amazon and Whole Foods to step up efforts to protect workers by providing adequate paid sick leave. The Attorney General also called on nine large online marketplace companies to intensify their efforts to tackle price gouging on their platforms in relation to COVID-19. For the latest on COVID-19 preparedness, please visit https://covid19.ca.gov/.
In sending the letter to Secretary Carson, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
A copy of the letter sent to Secretary Carson is available here.