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Equal Housing Advocates Call On St. Louis Banks To Temporarily Stop Foreclosures

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File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance wants banks and other lenders to help homeowners and renters of mortgage-backed properties keep their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

St. Louis-area advocates for housing equality demand that private banks and other lenders put a temporary stop to foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The St. Louis Equal Housing and Community Reinvestment Alliance on Thursday called on financial institutions to help people keep their homes while the region is under a stay-at-home order. The requests include moratoriums on evictions for mortgage-backed properties and halting reports of past-due payments to credit bureaus.

Federal lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took action in March to protect consumers by temporarily stopping foreclosures. But some private lenders have not done so for homeowners in St. Louis, said Elisabeth Risch, assistant director of the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council. 

“We want to make sure that people are protected, that they have options and that they’re able to stay in their house,” Risch said. 

Wells Fargo, Bank of America and other large banks are allowing customers to defer payments on loans and mortgages. Regional lenders Red Dough and Midwest BankCentre are offering emergency loans for people who’ve suffered financial losses from the pandemic. 

The Equal Housing Opportunity Council has gotten some calls from concerned residents about making mortgage and rent payments, Risch said. 

“We anticipate as this continues, as people really start to feel financial strains, that this is only going to get worse,” she said. 

Small businesses can apply for zero-interest loans that the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership is offering those who’ve been adversely affected by COVID-19. Commerce Bank, Busey Bank and eight other St. Louis-area banks announced Thursday that they are giving the partnership $500,000 to help fund those loans.

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