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Biden administration extends foreclosure moratorium, Kern County officials react

But just how will this housing relief extension impact Kern County residents?
Mortgage Lending Then and Now
Posted at 4:58 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 16:23:15-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — President Joe Biden is looking to ease economic hardships brought on by the pandemic. On Tuesday, he announced an extended foreclosure ban nationwide.

The announcement extends the moratorium for homeowners with federally-backed loans until the end of June. It also extends the window for homeowners with federally-backed loans to request mortgage forbearance which allows them to defer or reduce their mortgage payments until the end of June.

These protections rolled out last spring as the coronavirus pandemic ramped up across the nation and were set to expire at the end of March. With mortgage relief extended millions will benefit according to the Biden administration.

But just how will this housing relief extension impact Kern County residents?

These housing protections are going to benefit homeowners in the county who have been struggling to pay their mortgage. Officials with local homeless shelters say it may even keep some residents off the streets.

According to Carlos Baldovinos, The Mission at Kern County's CEO, the absence of pandemic mortgage protections could have put some locals in a dire situation.

"To me, that is welcome news as a homeless provider in this community," said Baldovinos. "It could probably drive people into homelessness if these mortgage-backed moratoriums were not in place."

And within the last few months, more local homeowners have been finding themselves in a bind according to Louis Gill, CEO of the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter.

"One of the main drivers for somebody coming in and seeking an emergency shelter would be that they weren't able to pay their rent and they've lost their home," explained Gill. "We now are also seeing individuals that own homes that are also getting worried and are reaching out to the safety net for help."

According to a White House memo, the extension will "directly benefit the 2.7 million homeowners currently in COVID forbearance and extend the availability of forbearance options for nearly 11 million government-backed mortgages nationwide."

The City of Bakersfield has also assisted on that front, initially allocating $5 million of CARES Act funds to help renters and homeowners.

According to the city, $3.3 million of those funds were used, which helped about 1,400 local families. The county used its funds to help about 500 households so far.

The announcement Monday did not include an extension of the federal evictions moratorium for tenants, which is set to expire on March 31st. But according to the county, more assistance is on the way for struggling households. Starting March 1st more than $26 million will be allocated towards rental and utility assistance.

In a statement to 23ABC, the county said "this program will run until July 1, 2021, or until the money runs out. It offers 100% assistance for rent and utilities up to 12 months."

More information about that program will be released in the coming days by the Kern Housing Authority.