Banks and mortgage lenders should "make every effort to communicate with and assist affected borrowers," FHA commissioner Carol Galante said in a letter to lenders last Friday.
The FHA wants lenders to offer informal forbearance plans, waive late fees, suspend credit reporting and evaluate borrowers for available loss-mitigation options to help them avoid foreclosure, if it should come to that.
Temporary forbearance plans allow mortgage payments to be postponed for anywhere from three to 12 months, depending on the borrower’s circumstances. Participation by lenders is voluntary and applies to borrowers subject to furlough, layoff or a reduction in income because of the shutdown.
"These dedicated public servants, through no fault of their own, are now forced to find a way to meet their ongoing financial obligations without their usual salaries," Galante wrote. "In many instances these are the same employees who have already lost pay during recent sequestration-related furloughs."
Also last Friday, JPMorgan Chase said it will automatically waive fees that could be incurred on checking and savings accounts as a result of lower-than-expected account balances for federal employees affected by the shutdown who have direct deposit. The bank also will not charge those direct deposit customers any fees for late payments on credit cards, auto loans, mortgages or home-equity loans.