HUD: More Measures to Help Homeowners Struggling Due to COVID-19

Investor Update
June 25, 2021

Source: HUD

WASHINGTON – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) on Friday announced more measures to help homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures will provide additional, immediate relief while also expanding outreach and home retention options for struggling homeowners who are disproportionately people of color.

“Since President Biden took office, COVID-19 cases and deaths are down by nearly 90 percent, and the economy is rebounding strongly,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Importantly, we must continue to take action to ensure that those who may have experienced hardships brought on by COVID-19 have the support they need to remain in their homes. I am pleased that FHA is implementing additional measures to meet this unprecedented challenge and ensure a fair and equitable recovery.”

“These measures are important steps we need to take to ensure that the individuals and families that continue to struggle financially due to COVID-19 have access to effective and meaningful recovery options,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Federal Housing Administration Lopa Kolluri. “We will continue to assess additional solutions to help homeowners in distress keep their homes and avoid future foreclosure where possible.”

Extended Single Family Foreclosure and Eviction Moratoria

In conjunction with the Biden-Harris Administration and other federal agencies, FHA is extending its foreclosure and eviction moratoria for all FHA-insured single family mortgages, except vacant or abandoned properties, through July 31, 2021. This automatic extension is a one-month additional safeguard for those who are struggling to remain in their homes as the nation transitions from relief to recovery.

Further, FHA is continuing its extension of the deadline for first legal action and reasonable diligence timeframes for 180 days after July 31, 2021, to provide servicers with the additional time needed to focus their work on assisting distressed homeowners. This extension excludes vacant or abandoned properties.

Extended COVID-19 Forbearance Request Timeframes

To assist homeowners who remain at risk of falling behind on their mortgage payments due to COVID-19, FHA is extending the time period for homeowners to start new forbearance plans to September 30, 2021. Homeowners who have not previously been in COVID-19 forbearance can request this pause or reduction in mortgage payments. The COVID-19 Forbearance for homeowners who newly request forbearance assistance between July 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, is for six months.

For homeowners who received a forbearance from their mortgage servicer between July 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020, FHA is providing one additional three-month forbearance extension for those who need and request additional time to recover financially before resuming mortgage payments.

COVID-19 Advance Loan Modification

FHA is also introducing a new home retention option, the COVID-19 Advance Loan Modification (COVID-19 ALM). The COVID-19 ALM will offer significant payment relief to eligible homeowners.

The COVID-19 ALM will be offered to borrowers currently 90 or more days delinquent or at the end of their COVID-19 Forbearance. This new home retention option is for those homeowners whom a 30-year rate and term mortgage modification will bring the mortgage current and will reduce the Principal and Interest portion of their monthly mortgage payment by at least 25 percent.

Mortgage servicers must review their FHA servicing portfolio and offer the new COVID-19 ALM to distressed homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages who have faced a COVID-19 related hardship. To accept the modification, borrowers need to only sign and return the mortgage modification documents to their mortgage servicer.

All loss mitigation options will remain available to borrowers that do not accept the COVID-19 ALM for any reason. Borrowers who cannot make the modified mortgage payments with the COVID-19 ALM or who have other questions should reach out to their mortgage servicer to learn about other options that are available to them.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage COVID-19 Extensions

To assist seniors with Home Equity Conversion (reverse) Mortgages (HECMs) who have been negatively affected by COVID-19, FHA is extending the ability for these homeowners to request an extension before the servicer may request the loan be called due and payable. For extension requests received between July 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, servicers must grant homeowners an extension of up to six months.

For HECM homeowners with loans that have already been called due and payable, servicers must approve homeowner requests for an extension for any deadline related to foreclosure and claim submission of up to six months when the request is received between July 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021.

For all HECMs that received an extension between July 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020, FHA is providing one additional three-month extension period if needed, when the homeowner requests this extension from their mortgage servicer.

Homeowners Seeking Assistance

FHA urges those who are behind on their mortgage payments or are having difficulty complying with the terms of their HECM, and have not yet contacted their mortgage servicer, to do so immediately. By contacting their servicer, homeowners can obtain a mortgage payment forbearance or a HECM extension. FHA also urges homeowners to engage with their mortgage servicer when their mortgage servicer contacts them about the new COVID-19 ALM or other loss mitigation home retention options.

Homeowners who are seeking more information on the options available to them should also consider contacting a HUD-approved housing counseling agency.

HUD is committed to removing barriers to homeownership for communities of color, persons with disabilities, and those with limited English proficiency. This includes removing long-standing barriers to obtaining fair housing. These communities have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and HUD will continue to work to:

– Ensure that lenders and others in the real estate industry do not engage in practices that have an unjustified discriminatory effect on communities of color and other protected classes.

– Ensure that forbearance programs are actively and affirmatively marketed to those in the housing market area least likely to be aware of the options, least likely to apply, and to those that face barriers.

– Eliminate or reduce barriers for requesting forbearance.

– Ensure that lenders are aware of how anti-discrimination laws apply to communication with limited English proficient (LEP) households. As of HUD’s 2016 Limited English proficiency guidance, over twenty-five million persons in the United States – approximately nine percent of the population – have limited English proficiency.

– Ensure lenders understand their obligation to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including changes or exceptions to policies, practices, procedures, and services that may be necessary to provide equal opportunities and equal access for individuals with disabilities.

– Recognize that homeowners facing default may be vulnerable to foreclosure rescue scams that often target limited English proficient communities, and other communities of color.

– Ensure lenders are not discriminating in the maintenance and marketing of foreclosed properties. Lenders may not engage in substandard maintenance and marketing of foreclosed properties in communities of color, particularly while properly maintaining and marketing foreclosed properties in predominantly white communities.

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CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.

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Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.

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CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER

George Mehok

George Mehok is the chief information officer for Safeguard. He is responsible for all strategic technology decisions, new systems deployments and data center operations supporting a national network of more than 10,000 mobile workers.

George has more than 20 years of leadership experience dedicated to high-growth companies in the mobile telecommunications and financial services industries, spanning startups to global industry leaders.

George played a senior role in the formation of Verizon Wireless, leading the IT product development and strategic planning team. He led the integration planning for the Verizon merger including: GTE, Vodafone-AirTouch, Bell Atlantic Mobile and PrimeCo.

As chief information officer at Revol Wireless, a VC-backed CDMA wireless communications network operator, George’s team implemented an integrated technology infrastructure and award-winning business intelligence platform.

George holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Eastern Michigan University and an M.B.A. from The Ohio State University. He is a board member of Akron University’s School of Business Center for Information Technology, in addition to an advisory board member for OHTec.

In 2013, George won the Crain’s Cleveland Business CIO of the Year award for his team’s work in completing a major acquisition and technology transformation at Safeguard. In 2015, George’s team was recognized by InformationWeek’s annual Elite 100 ranking of the most innovative U.S.-based users of business technology. The mobile inspection technology developed at Safeguard was selected as InformationWeek’s “One of the top 20 ideas to steal in 2015”.

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General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.

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Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.

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AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.

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AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.

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AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.

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AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.

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AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.

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Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.