Federal Agencies Issue Extension on Housing, Student Debt Relief

U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House January 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden delivered remarks on his administration’s COVID-19 response, and signed executive orders and other presidential actions.

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Federal agencies made good on President Joe Biden’s first-day promises, extending pauses on evictions, foreclosures, and student loan payments.

The agencies made quick work of implementing the extensions, part of a vast economic plan Biden introduced early in his tenure. On Wednesday morning, the Biden administration released a list of priorities for the president’s first day in office that include extending relief for federal student loan debt and extending moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures. By Thursday, nearly all the applicable agencies had complied.

The current order halting residential evictions has been extended until “at least March 31,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle P. Walensky in a statement, while the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) extended foreclosure moratoriums for most USDA and FHA-insured mortgages until the same date. Both HUD and USDA are also continuing to require mortgage servicers to accept applications for mortgage forbearance.

A third federal agency that insures mortgages—the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs—has yet to announce whether it will follow suit.

On Tuesday, in a move unrelated to Biden’s requests, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had extended moratoriums on single-family foreclosures until Feb. 28. The president said he would ask FHFA to consider an additional extension.

Those with federal student loans received an additional eight-month reprieve, with the Education Department (ED) extending the pause on interest and principal payments for all ED-held federal student loans until at least Sept. 30, 2021. Some 35.9 million people had $1.3 trillion in outstanding direct federal student loans as of the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the Office of Federal Student Aid.