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Protecdiv CEO, Kael Coleman, participated on a Housing-Expo panel in support of challenged homeowners and renters organized by Pennsylvania State Senator Sharif Street that included U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans and Pennsylvania State Representatives Donna Bullock and Malcolm Kenyatta.

On this panel he encouraged homeowners and renters to ensure that they have quality homeowners’ insurance even if they or their loved ones own their home outright, to explore refinancing their homes to reduce their monthly financial burden, and to take full advantage of any support programs that exist through their lender, servicer, or federal, state, or local government.  On this panel he also encouraged community groups to comment on the FHFA’s proposed capital rule to help balance the for-profit industry response.  In support of this event, we wrote a blog post detailing out thoughts.  The recording of the panel can be found at COVID-19: Rent & Housing AssistanceKael speaks at 26:45-31:50 and 1:07:56-1:10:2).

Ahead of speaking at Pennsylvania Senator Sharif Street’s online ‘Housing Expo’ webinar, Kael Coleman, Protecdiv Founder and CEO, shares advice on the programs and insurance available to help those from lower income communities to purchase and protect their homes during these unprecedented times.

Historically lower income, black, and minority communities have lower rates of homeownership, and experience financial stress more acutely in economic downturns, compared to other communities. Protecdiv is working on programs to bring insurance and reinsurance capital to these challenged communities to foster business development and homeownership. As part of our efforts, our CEO, Kael Coleman, has been invited to participate on a virtual panel “Housing Expo: COVID-19 Awareness, Prevention and Programs Series”. The event is hosted by Pennsylvania State Senator Sharif Street, United States Congressman Dwight Evans, and Pennsylvania State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, with support from the National African American Insurance Association and other community members.

For the attendees of this panel discussion, and for all homeowners and renters facing financial stress, there are three housing-related topics to focus on:

  • The importance of Homeowners’ Insurance. as a key part of financial planning
  • Ensuring the lowest possible monthly cost of homeownership.
  • Taking advantage of borrower and renter assistance programs.

The importance of Homeowners Insurance

Anyone who owns a home should purchase Homeowners’ Insurance. Homeowners’ Insurance protects against loss from fire, theft, and the medical and legal costs related to a visitor to your home getting injured. Renters should purchase a Contents Only policy that protects your belongings to cover the perils of fire, theft and other types of major loss.

We recommend purchasing the best coverage you can afford. If you ever need to put a claim into your insurance company for a loss, you will already be having a bad day. Having a strong insurance policy in place, and receiving quick service and claims payment from your insurer, will make that day a little better.  It is important to choose the right deductible based on your financial situation.  A lower

deductible means your premiums will be slightly higher however your out of pocket costs if there is a claim will be much lower.

If you have a mortgage on your home, the lender will require you to have Homeowners’ Insurance and pay it through escrow so it will be a part of your monthly mortgage payment. For those of you who own your home outright without a mortgage, or have parents or other loved ones who own their homes outright, please ensure that you, or they, have homeowners’ coverage in place. You can lose your home in an instant from a fire or a lawsuit related to a visitor’s slip-and-fall, if you do not have homeowners’ coverage.

If you are having trouble paying your Homeowners’ Insurance, especially if that is due to COVID-19, call your insurance agent or insurance company, ask what options you have. They may have alternative payments plans or coverages that could better fit your budget.

Lower the monthly cost of homeownership

The biggest component of the cost of homeownership is likely your mortgage. Fortunately, mortgage interest rates are currently at historic lows. If you refinance your mortgage now, you may be able to save $100 or more a month. Remember that any refinancing has significant closing costs that likely equate to years of that monthly savings.

Three considerations when thinking about a refinance:

  1. If you can save one percentage point or more on your mortgage rate, it may be worth refinancing.
  2. If the closing costs are less than three years of the monthly savings, or if you expect to be in your home for the long-term, it may be worth refinancing.
  3. If your mortgage amount is smaller (10’s of thousands of dollars) or has only a few years left on it, it may make more financial sense to leave it as-is and not refinance.

Call your bank or a mortgage broker to find out what options are available to you.

Borrower and renter assistance programs

There are many helpful programs available to homeowners and renters, particularly during our current COVID-19-related recession.

These programs may offer:

  • Affordability programs that help you buy a home you can sustainably afford.
  • Forbearance, meaning that you may be able to defer some or your mortgage payments, or special refinancing of your mortgage loan.
  • Assistance with your rent and other eviction protections.
  • Financial counseling and education programs that help you better understand credit and your financial options (which are often free).
  • Help with home improvements and maintenance.
  • Help to sell your home on your terms rather than through a forced foreclosure, which may leave some money in your pocket.

To access these programs, start with your state Housing Finance Agency. For Pennsylvania residents, go to phfa.org (which stands for Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency) and contact them. If you are out of Pennsylvania, google “your state” and “housing finance agency”.

Depending on your particular situation, you may also contact your lender, your loan servicer (which may be a different company than your lender), your mortgage insurer. There are also a number of federal-related entities such as the Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans Affairs department, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or your state or U.S. Senators and Representatives.

Remember, if you are experiencing financial hardship, you will be in a much better position if you reach out for help before you default on your mortgage. Everyone wants you to stay in your home. Itis better for the lenders, itis better for our government assistance programs, and itis better for our communities.

In summary:

  • Homeowners’ Insurance is important; make sure you have it.
  • Ensure you have the lowest cost of homeownership by looking into refinancing.
  • Take advantage of borrower and renters assistance programs.

Housing Expo: COVID-19 Awareness, Prevention and Programs Series

Zoom and Online Town Hall hosted by State Senator Sharif Street


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