A number of U.S. lawmakers sent a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requesting a 90-day extension of the foreclosure moratorium in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ahead of the current March 19 deadline.
In the letter, 25 members of Congress — headed by U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, along with Resident Commissioners Jenniffer González-Colón (PR) and Stacey Plackett (VI) —also request that upon payment, the amounts owed be rolled into the principal, rather than required to be fully paid in a lump sum.
“Hundreds of thousands of people in these U.S. territories still reel from hurricane destruction and lack of power,” said Soto.
“It is crucial we offer American families temporary relief from home foreclosures during this time of chaos,” he said.
“The extension would benefit the elderly and communities of limited income, as well as support the thousands of multigenerational households. We need to avoid a housing crisis and foreclosure epidemic on the islands,” Soto added.
The lawmakers expressed concern that ending “the moratorium on foreclosures would create a situation that would exacerbate homelessness throughout the islands,” citing reports that as of December 2017, about one-third of Puerto Rico’s 425,000 homeowners were behind on their mortgage payments, and about 90,000 are delinquent as a result of Hurricane María.
The other lawmakers that signed the letter are: Nannette Diaz-Barragán (CA-44), Robert A. Brady (PA-01), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Al Lawson (FL-05), Grace Meng (NY-06), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Ileana Ros- Lehtinen (FL-27), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Juan C. Vargas (CA-51), Nydia M. Velásquez (NY-07), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).