State Senator Alex Kasser (D-Greenwich) on Wednesday led state Senate passage of a bill that expands Connecticut’s existing foreclosure mediation program to create a safety net for homeowners who may be at risk of losing their homes in foreclosure due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Bill 891, “An Act Concerning the Ezequiel Santiago Foreclosure Mediation Program and Other Alternatives to Foreclosure,” passed the Senate on an 34-2 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill addresses the immediate housing crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic by requiring lenders – for the next six years – to provide homeowners with options for assistance through Connecticut’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMAP). If a homeowner is behind on their mortgage payments or has delinquent tax liens, water or sewer charges or even condominium charges, this program can now offer them help.
Connecticut’s home mortgage delinquency rate soared to 9.6% in May 2020 – the highest level since the Great Depression, with more than half a million mortgages delinquent. Three months ago, in February 2021, the mortgage delinquency rate in Connecticut was at 7.1%.
“In Connecticut and across the country, many homeowners are in financial trouble due to the impact of the pandemic,” said Sen. Kasser, who is Senate Chair of the Banking Committee. “This bill is a response to the COVID-19 crisis, and it gives homeowners who may have lost their job the support they need so they don’t lose their home, too.”
Another section of the bill extends Connecticut’s existing foreclosure mediation program for six years, until June 30, 2029. The program brings together judicial branch mediators, lenders, and borrowers to keep financially troubled families in their homes. In the 5 years before the pandemic, the program helped 14,000 homeowners with a 91% success rate – meaning that 91% of those cases were resolved.
Since its inception in 2008 – at the height of the recession and housing crisis – this program has conducted over 32,000 foreclosure mediations, with 71% of homeowners remaining in their homes. At least one homeowner from every town in Connecticut has taken part in the program. The bill that passed the Senate today extends that track record of success and offers expanded support for CT homeowners in the years to come.