Muddied: Mortgage Bankers Should Rethink Their Response to Disasters
By JJ Hornblass
In case you forgot, there was a big hurricane out here in the Northeast last month.
I say “forgot” because while Hurricane Sandy might be out of the headlines today, it remains very much an “active” disaster. I was out on Staten Island yesterday delivering meals to people still trying to get their bearings after the storm. The areas I visited, near the south shore of the island, literally became lakes after the hurricane as homes were completely submerged and cars floated about like fishing bobs.
Even yesterday there remain staging centers on street corners around Staten Island at which hot meals are distributed and people whose homes were devastated could stop by to pick out donated clothing and supplies. There was a constant stream of people visiting the staging center on Midland Avenue yesterday.
I share this with you not to get you to donate or volunteer, both of which are worthwhile endeavors. Rather, I would urge financial institutions, and mortgage lenders in particular, to think about changing their post-disaster policies for the sake of their brands and for the wrecked communities they serve.
More than one disaster victim I spoke with yesterday had particular anger for their mortgage lender. Essentially, the post-disaster lending policies today work like this: the bank gives the borrower a three-month moratorium. At the end of three months, the borrower is expected to pay four months of mortgage payments. There is no abatement of the loan.