CFPB Director Unveils One-Stop Shop for Housing Info

May 13, 2020

Kathy Kraninger

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger

Four federal agencies have joined forces to launch a new mortgage and housing assistance website to protect the economic security of homeowners and renters, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger announced Tuesday during the Regulatory Issues Forum at the 2020 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings. Kraninger offered reassurance that the CFPB was stepping up its education and assistance available to consumers during the pandemic.

The website, created in partnership with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, consolidates their existing resources and new extensive CARES Act assistance offered by all of the agencies into one location. Consumers can find information from the federal government on mortgage relief and protection for renters, tips on avoiding COVID-19–related scams, and search tools for homeowners to determine whether their mortgage is federally backed.

Kraninger also addressed the credit score concerns of those who have been granted forbearance or loan modification under the CARES Act, saying that most don’t expect consumers to see their scores plunge. “It’s a little more complex than saying your credit won’t be affected,” she said. “There are other factors to consider. But [if you’ve received forbearance], you are still current if you are in that relationship.”

On the subject of the qualified mortgage patch, which allows certain loans backed by government-sponsored enterprises to exceed the debt-to-income ratio on qualified loans, she stated that the patch was always intended to expire at some point, but given the pandemic, the bureau will move very carefully into the next phase. “We will take into account the current situation and transition time period,” Kraninger said. “We are looking at what a replacement will look like.”

Eugene Scalia

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia spoke on his hope for a rebound in the economy as more states ease stay-at-home orders, and he drew attention to the thriving economy with record employment rates that the U.S. was experiencing just prior to the pandemic. He contrasted that employment picture with figures released on Friday that showed a 14.7% unemployment rate and 20.5 million payroll jobs lost in April.

He credited the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act, with its Paycheck Protection Program and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provisions, with providing a cushion for struggling small businesses, families, and individuals, and touted the work of the U.S. Digital Service, which is working overtime to assist state unemployment agencies in updating old equipment and systems, helping them to get PUA benefits out to those still waiting. “PUA benefits are available retroactively,” he said, “and the U.S. Digital Service has made great strides” in modernizing access to service.

As states reopen and people leave the unemployment rolls, Scalia said, businesses can use OSHA-issued guidance as a resource to help businesses reopen safely. Forty states, he said, are currently working on reopening, and Labor Department surveys of the unemployed offer hope for a rebound in the jobs market. According to Scalia, most workers labeled their job loss as temporary rather than permanent, in stark contrast to 2008 when losses were permanent. “I want to keep those job losses temporary,” he said. “Over 90% of those surveyed said they expect to go back to work fairly soon.”

Jovita Carranza

U.S. Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza

The forum concluded with previously recorded remarks from U.S. Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza, who noted that the SBA has given out a record-breaking $750,000,000 in one month through the PPP, providing much needed liquidity to hundreds of thousands of small businesses. She went on to praise REALTORS® for their dedication to serving their communities. “Your work in real estate is indispensable to the American dream,” she said.

The REALTORS® Legislative Meetings take place through May 15. As of Wednesday morning, more than 25,000 attendees had registered for the event.