The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program on Wednesday announced measures, including loan relief, to help residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to a release from the USDA, a 60-day moratorium on foreclosures and evictions was put into place March 19 in the single-family housing Direct and Guaranteed loan program. The moratorium applies to both the initiation of foreclosures and evictions and the completion of those in progress.

Borrowers in the Guaranteed Loan program who are in default or facing imminent default due to a documented hardship can have payments reduced or suspended by their lender for a period not to exceed 12 months delinquency, the release stated.

Once the hardship is resolved, the lender can modify the loan to cure the delinquency or make up the missed payments based on the borrower’s individual circumstances.

Questions about Guaranteed Loan servicing should be directed to sfhgld.program@usda.gov.

In the Direct Loan Program, the USDA has waived or relaxed certain parts of the application process for Single-Family Housing Direct Loans, including site assessment, and has extended the time period that certificates of eligibility are valid.

A Direct Loan borrower who is experiencing a reduction of income by more than 10% can request a payment assistance package to determine eligibility for assistance, the release stated.

Moratorium assistance is available for Direct Loan borrowers experiencing medical expenses not covered by insurance or job loss because of COVID-19. Qualifying borrowers can receive a moratorium on house payments for a period of time, repaid at a later date.

Questions about the Direct Loan program should be directed to to USDA’s Customer Service Center at 800-414-1226 (7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday) or https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/loan-servicing. Call volume and wait times are high at this time.

In the Multi-Family Housing program, several steps are being taken to help owners, management agents and tenants maintain quality housing, the release stated.

In the Section 515 Multi-Family program, tenant certifications due at the end of March, April and May will now be due June 30 with no late fees or overage charges.

Late fees on Section 515 mortgages will be waived, and the annual financial statement deadline will be extended 30 days after March 31.

The USDA is also encouraging owners to work with tenants to adjust rents if their income has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Those who have received USDA business and industry loan guarantees may have their payments deferred for no longer than 120 days if they are experiencing temporary cash flow issues, the release stated.

Measures have also been taken in the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service program and application deadlines for a variety of programs.

More information is available on the USDA website.

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