Recovering from Hurricane Harvey: Banks, Credit Unions, and Lenders Can Make a Real Difference for Families
Banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders and consumer lenders all have an important role to play in the Hurricane Harvey recovery. Families will be struggling to make mortgage payments, debt and bill payments, access funds, cash checks, and meet other financial services needs. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD and the VA have announced special programs for mortgage loans that they oversee, but those same protections are not required for other parts of the market. Banking regulators (FDIC and OCC) have issued suggested practices, and the NCUA has announced special programs for federally chartered credit unions. These already recommended or required practices offer a blueprint for the whole market to step up to help families.
Top-line recommendations or requirements include:
• Delaying payments or restructuring loans to give families some breathing room and time to stay on top of mortgage loans, credit card debt, and other loans;
• Waiving late fees and overdraft fees;
• Waiving ATM fees and taking other steps to help people access their money in a faster and secure way;
• Delaying submission of delinquency notices to credit bureaus; and
• Assessing community credit needs and making fair loans more accessible in a safe and sound manner.
Financial services providers who step up and adopt these suggested practices will play an important role in the recovery for desperate families. They will help to keep families away from predatory financial services, fly-by-night operators trying to take advantage of desperation, and scammers. They will help pave the way to a better and faster financial recovery for Texas families.
Ann Baddour is the Director of Fair Financial Services and Maddie Sloan is the Director of Fair Housing and Disaster Recovery at Texas Appleseed.