NJ homeowners get 90-day grace period for mortgages
TRENTON — Homeowners in New Jersey are getting a 90-day grace period on mortgage payments during the coronavirus public health emergency.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the moratorium Saturday afternoon on a day that added another 2,289 COVID-19 cases in the state for a total of 11,124, and another 32 deaths for a total of 140.
The mortgage payment relief follows similar actions that have halted rental evictions and foreclosure removals during the crisis.
Murphy on Saturday also asked financial institutions to take a further step by committing to not initiating foreclosure proceedings during the emergency.
"Many New Jersey families can breathe easier keeping their heads above water and have a place that they can continue to call home," Murphy said.
The mortgage moratorium will not be used to downgrade borrowers' credit ratings and they will not be charged late fees, Murphy said.
The action was taken in cooperation with Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and more than 40 banks, credit unions and mortgage servicers in the state. Murphy said his order was modeled on California's.
Borrowers will have to contact their own financial institutions for information on applying for the forbearance program if they have a COVID-19-related financial hardship.
Murphy called on homeowners and financial institutions to show "compassion."
"To any renter facing eviction, let me be clear. Under my executive order, your landlord cannot kick you out of your home during this emergency. Period," Murphy said. "For any landlord who is getting mortgage relief today, we expect you will in turn provide similar relief to your tenants."
"Now is the time to show some compassion and to work with your renters to assure that they stay safe and in their homes," he said about landlords. "Now is not the time to be raising rents. You cannot evict anyone at this time. If you try to, we will not take it lightly and we will make an example out of you for violating the law."
The Department of Community Affairs, meanwhile, received an additional $13 million from the federal government to support Section 8 housing vouchers.
The governors' actions are sign of the perhaps unprecedented financial strain that the pandemic is placing on the economy. Last week, the state's unemployment claims jumped by more than 1,500% as a result of non-essential businesses being forced to close to the public. Murphy again on Saturday compared the moment to World War II.
The healthcare strain, meanwhile, continues to mount.
The state has ordered all hospitals and medical facilities to share data every day regarding bed capacity, personal protective equipment — referred to as PPE — and ventilators.
"This will allow us to more efficiently and effectively manage the flow of PPE and to have the most up-to-date information possible regarding bed capacity," Murphy said.
Murphy thanked President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, with whom he speaks to over the phone on an almost daily basis, for the latest shipment of equipment from the national stockpile.
State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan, who heads the state's emergency response efforts, said the latest overnight shipment provided 121,000 N95 masks, 287,000 surgical masks, 62,000 face shields, 51,000 pairs of surgical gloves, 3,500 overalls, 368,000 pairs of gloves, and 1,000 medical beds.
The state has received 200 of the 400 ventilators requested. State Health Commissioner Juditch Persichilli said hospitals are planning to share each ventilator between two patients at a time. Persichilli has said that the state may need up to 2,000 additional ventilators.
She said some hospitals in North Jersey — the hardest region in the state, particularly in Bergen County — have had to divert patients because of staffing shortages related to sickness.