Thousands of government-backed mortgages impacted by Maui fire

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week announced a package of regulatory and administrative waivers that will allow the use of HUD funding to assist with the recovery of Maui after the island endured a series of devastating wildfires. The waivers come as thousands of government-backed mortgages on the island have been impacted by the disaster, according to data released by the office of Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D).

Based on the data, 5,200 mortgages serviced by Freddie Mac, 9,800 mortgages serviced by Fannie Mae and 2,400 mortgages serviced by Ginnie Mae on Maui have all been impacted by the fires. Additionally, 1,300 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages including two public housing and two senior living buildings have been impacted, as well as 927 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgages.

However, this data only provides a partial picture. The governor’s office said that the Lāhainā and Kula areas are “still being assessed.” Lāhainā, a popular tourist destination on the island, was the town most affected by the spread of the wildfires. Most of the structures in the town were destroyed.

HUD’s waiver package aims to accomplish five key goals in assistance for Maui, including suspending the community development block grant (CDBG) public services cap to provide additional support services related to the effects of the disaster on individuals and families, which will allow for HUD funds to pay for food, water and “other emergency needs,” HUD said.

The funds will also allow for new housing construction with CDBG funding in declared-disaster areas, and provide flexibility in HOME tenant-based rental assistance requirements “to reduce burden for those seeking assistance.” The HOME local matching contribution requirements will also be waived in an effort to provide “greater flexibility in the entities that can expeditiously provide housing to displaced persons and repair properties damaged by the disaster.”

Finally, the waivers will allow for an extension of time so that  “individuals can receive temporary assistance, including CDBG emergency grant payments and ESG rental assistance.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has also been active in the conversation since Americans will typically aim to find ways to donate money, clothing or other materials to the disaster area in the immediate aftermath and beyond. CFPB warns that some bad actors typically aim to take advantage of these inclinations.

“It’s natural to want to lend a hand to others who have been affected by an emergency,” CFPB said in an announcement distributed on Friday. “You can share our tips for sending financial support to others, including fast facts about mobile apps. And, refer to our tips for avoiding scams and fraud that can entrap people trying to help.”