Americans are skipping payments on mortgages, auto loans and other bills. Normally, that could mean massive foreclosures, evictions, cars repossessions and people’s credit getting destroyed.
But much of that’s been put on pause. Help from Congress and leniency from lenders have kept impending financial disaster at bay for millions of people. But that may not last for long.
The problem is, these efforts aim to create a financial bridge to the future for people who’ve lost their income in the pandemic — but the bridge is only half built. For one thing, the help still isn’t reaching many people who need it.
“My wife has filed, certified every week for her unemployment for 10 weeks now, and they have done nothing,” says Jonathan Baird of Bruceton, Tenn. “We’ve struggled.”
Baird is a disabled veteran who gets a small disability pension. But after the pandemic hit, his wife lost her job as a home health aide. That was most of their income. And like many other contract workers, she’s run into long delays trying to collect unemployment.
Meanwhile, Baird says his mortgage company told him he didn’t qualify for a federal program to postpone payments. Many homeowners have been given wrong or misleading information from lenders about that. And it appears that’s what happened in Baird’s case.
Baird also called Ford to try to get a break on the payments for his pickup truck. “When I contacted them, they told me that there was nothing they could do,” he says. “Just basically make your payment or suffer the late fees.”