Wolf, Shapiro announce 60-day extension on foreclosure, eviction moratorium

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The Wolf administration on Thursday threw a 60-day lifeline to homeowners and renters, authorizing an extension on a court-ordered moratorium on foreclosures and evictions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first order, issued by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, was set to expire on May 11. The administration’s new executive order extends it to July 10, Gov. Tom Wolf said during an online news briefing.

“This takes one more burden off people who are struggling and gives them more time to get back on their feet,” Wolf told journalists.

The order, however, does not exempt people from making rent and mortgage payments. And if people are having a hard time making those payments, Wolf said they should reach out to their landlords or mortgage companies to try to reach an accommodation.

Appearing from his home in Montgomery County, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office had negotiated an agreement with the statewide trade association representing Pennsylvania landlords that waives late fees and extends grace periods.

With 1.7 million unemployed, and many more seeing their pay cut, the move by Wolf’s office and the agreement will give Pennsylvanians a lift as they wait for businesses to reopen and for “expanded federal dollars for unemployment to reach individuals,” he said. “That is why we understand that we need to make sure people are protected and have a roof over their heads.”

In a statement, the administration said it’s provided emergency guidance aimed at stemming foreclosures and helping people who are experiencing homelessness.

The Department of Human Services, for instance, is working with local officials to provide resources for people who are experiencing homelessness. The state Department of Community and Economic Development is now accepting applications for its Emergency Solutions Grants, which provides for the “rapid rehousing of people experiencing homelessness,” as well as “street outreach, homelessness prevention, and emergency shelter activities,” the administration said.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency has also halted foreclosures and evictions and is offering forbearances with late fee waivers to homeowners with a PHFA mortgage who are having financial problems because of the pandemic. The agency also has released a list of renters’ rights and responsibilities “to clarify the situation for apartment residents and is working with landlords and property managers to distribute it to renters,” the administration said.