As Mainers are being told to stay home to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we must all do our part to make sure they have a home where they can stay. As hours are reduced or cut entirely and Mainers are finding themselves without income – and perhaps no job to return to – we have a simple proposition for all landlords and lenders in Maine: No one in Maine should lose their home because of COVID-19.

As the state’s housing authority, we are tasked with ensuring all Mainers have a safe, affordable place to live. At MaineHousing, we believe that renters and borrowers should not experience the threat of foreclosure or eviction because of events outside of their control. It is a fact that many people won’t be able to pay their rent. Many won’t be able to afford their mortgage. And it’s up to those of us who can make a difference to do so now.

MaineHousing pledges not to foreclose on anyone who cannot pay their MaineHousing mortgage because of COVID-19. We encourage other lenders to do the same.

We suggest that all lenders in Maine grant forbearances (postpone loan payments) to homeowners affected by COVID-19. While recent federal actions cover 30 million homeowners with federally backed mortgages, those with mortgages not backed by the federal government are left to weather the COVID-19 storm. Join us in our commitment and do not initiate foreclosures on defaulted loans due to COVID-19.

We are also asking landlords to reach out to your tenants – tell them you will not evict them if they cannot pay their rent because of COVID-19. Help your tenants find community and state resources, such as unemployment, that can help them. Work together to create a realistic payment plan. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to make your mortgage payment without collecting rent, talk to your lender.

Tenants and homeowners have an important role to play in making this work. This is a scary time, and a lot is out of our individual control. However, talking to your landlord or lender about your inability to pay your rent or mortgage is something you can control. You can work out different payment plans with your lender or landlord. Find out what kind of assistance is available. Make a plan to repay what you owe – and promise to do what you can to get assistance available to you.

Maine courts are closed for eviction hearings until May 1. However, they are still issuing writs of possession, and in most counties in Maine, those writs are still being served. Our courts don’t need to be clogged with evictions and foreclosure actions solely as a result of COVID-19.

Mainers help Mainers. It’s as simple as that. Just a few days into COVID-19’s arrival in Maine, we saw Mainers starting fundraisers to support people in the service industry who are currently out of work. Mainers across the state are creating task forces in their communities to make sure high-risk community members get the groceries and prescriptions they need. Kids across the state are taking to Maine sidewalks and writing messages of hope and perseverance. Mainers help each other in many different ways.

So let’s help each other in yet another tangible way – by making sure everyone can stay home. No one should lose their home because of COVID-19. This is not only a moral imperative, but also an achievable one. We can act now to ensure that the devastation caused by COVID-19 is not worse than it could be. We can make collective business decisions that calm those who depend on us and not feed into the anxiety of an already scary situation.

Let’s band together to ease these fears. Join MaineHousing in our commitment: no evictions, no foreclosures. We have the power to make this a reality – because we are Mainers who help Mainers.


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