April 7, 2020
Dear NeighborWorks Montana client,
If you are experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to know your options and to proactively seek out services and resources. NeighborWorks Montana and our partners are here to help support your financial wellbeing with information and access to resources that can help you understand your mortgage options and other types of available financial support.
What should I do about my April mortgage payment?
Your home is your most important financial asset, and now is a critical time to protect that asset. If you can make your April mortgage payment, please do so. By making your payment on time, you are helping us to help more people who simply cannot make their payment. If you don’t think you can make your loan payment, please contact us as soon as possible at 406-604-4552 or [email protected]. We will do our best to help you get through this.
There is also more information below about new changes to qualifying for unemployment benefits that may help you maintain your income if you have experienced job loss or a reduction in work hours and income.
Can I skip a payment or payments?
You may have been hearing news recently that new federal guidelines will allow for a mortgage forbearance that can pause your mortgage payments. A forbearance means that you don’t have to make a payment (or can make partial payments) for a specific period of time. Typically regulations require that at the end of that time, all of your missed payments become due or you will be placed on a payment plan for a longer period where you would have to make catch-up payments in addition to your regular payment. For most people, it could be very difficult to have that money available to make all of your missed payments at once, or to make extra payments on top of your regular payment.
If you are experiencing difficulty making your mortgage payment, be sure to contact us as soon as possible at 406-604-4552 or [email protected] so we can discuss the options that best address your needs.
Can I lower my monthly payment by refinancing?
Mortgage interest rates are historically low, so there is a good chance refinancing will allow you to lower your payment and improve your cash flow. Contact your first mortgage lender or one of our partner lenders. A home mortgage lender can analyze your current mortgage, assess whether you will be able to refinance, and provide you with options that will best address your needs. It is important that you continue to make your mortgage payments on time to be eligible for a refinance.
I have been laid off or my work hours have been reduced. What can I expect from the unemployment insurance system?
Even if you have not qualified for unemployment benefits in the past, there is a good chance you might qualify now. Recently passed federal legislation expands both the dollar amount of unemployment benefit payments as well as who is covered by unemployment insurance. In addition to regular state unemployment insurance, individuals will receive an additional $600 per week for up to four months. The legislation also expands unemployment benefits to gig workers, freelancers and self-employed individuals who typically don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. Workers who are furloughed, but not actually laid off, will also be eligible for unemployment benefits. This means that they can stay on their company benefits plans and keep their company health insurance, while still being eligible for benefits.
Unemployment benefits are processed and paid through the State. In Montana, visit http://uid.dli.mt.gov/ as soon as possible to get more information and to apply. If you have internet access, please use the online application system so that others who don’t have internet access can get through via phone.
What is NeighborWorks Montana doing in response to COVID-19?
Currently, our physical offices are closed with NeighborWorks Montana staff working from home and accessible via email, phone, and online meeting technologies. We will continue to actively monitor the situation and follow guidance from our State officials and the CDC and will keep you updated on any changes in our operations.
During this time, we all should continue to be extra vigilant in practicing social distancing in all aspects of our lives. Limiting person-to-person contact is a key contributor to reducing the risk of exposure and spread of the virus within our community and the potential strain on our healthcare system. We thank you for helping contribute to positive and sensible precautions we can all take to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Your NeighborWorks Montana Team