Plans to Suspend Mortgage Payments After Storm Vary

NBC 6's Myriam Masihy reports.

(Published Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017)

Angela Hernandez is still struggling to catch up financially three months after Hurricane Irma.

She says the storm cost her about $3000. The cost includes damage to her roof when a tree in her yard fell. The cost also includes what she paid to evacuate to Ohio. She missed five days of work and pay.

“In the hurricane, you lost money,” she said.

She thought a program that allowed her to postpone mortgage payments, called mortgage forbearance, would help her financial issues.

Hernandez’ lender, Freedom Mortgage, approved her plan to suspend three mortgage payments of $1,600 each.

She thought the missed payments would be added to the end of her loan. But when she got her latest statement, she found out the missed mortgage payments were due at the end of the three months.

She called NBC 6 Responds because she was left questioning what help the plan provided her and wanted to make sure others knew about it too.

“It’s hard for me,” she said. “It’s very hard.”

Freedom Mortgage sent us a statement:

“These forbearance programs temporarily reduce or suspend mortgage payments and have helped many families take the time they need to rebuild their homes. Once the forbearance period ends, borrowers have different options to catch up on past due payments but it’s important they read their loan documents carefully to be sure they fully understand these options. We are happy to work with all our customers to explain how this process works.”

Alberto Gutierrez, a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, says each lender has its own policy when it comes to forbearance plans and that man expect the money to be paid in full after three months.

“The lesson should really be to read your contracts,” he said. “Are they helping you by postponing the payments for a couple months? Yes, they are. But at the end of the day, they need to make their money because they’ve got shareholders they’ve got to answer to.”

Hernandez says with hard work and sacrifice, the family will be caught up with the mortgage payments by the end of December.

“No Thanksgiving,” she said. “No shopping, no dinner out.”