Marsh 7

Hurricane Irma flooded the homes of many Brunswick residents who live on the marsh, leaving many of their possessions destroyed.

Tiffany Fields/The Brunswick News

Mortgage relief in various forms of assistance is available for Glynn County residents affected by Hurricane Irma.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced last week that it will speed up federal disaster assistance to Georgia and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes due to the storm.

“This is foreclosure relief, or forbearance, where the lender may waive late fees, penalties, missed payments, and instead of forgiving a missed payment, the lender could apply the missed payments to the end of the term of the mortgage,” said HUD spokesperson Brian Sullivan on Friday.

Anyone with a Federal Housing Authority mortgage on a home that is unlivable or who had their workplace closed due to the storm should call their lender.

“They need to say my area is a federally declared disaster area and I cannot make my payments,” Sullivan said. “This relief effort is designed to give folks breathing room until they can get back on their feet.”

President Donald Trump issued a major-disaster declaration for Camden, Chatham and Glynn counties. The declaration allows HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to some families in affected counties.

Those homeowners also need to call their homeowners insurance company and register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine their need and find out whether they qualify for the assistance, which can come in the way of grants, assistance with hotel payment, et cetera, Sullivan said.

“Everybody will be evaluated,” Sullivan added. “We will tell lenders that if folks come to them and had trouble paying their mortgage, to suspend action against them for a period of 90 days as a way for the homeowner to figure out their next steps.”

Other assistance is also available through HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Millicent Harwell-Cross, president and founder of Totally Free, 1515 ½ Newcastle St., a HUD-approved, nonprofit housing agency, can help navigate and find the right people to talk to.

Anyone who needs housing or mortgage relief help can contact her office at 912- 265-1515 for an appointment.

“As a HUD-approved agency, we can assist folks from Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia with FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac insured loans and implement specific guidance for disaster recovery assistance,” Harwell-Cross said. “We can also help with conventional mortgages or housing issues.”

In addition to being a HUD-approved housing agency, Harwell-Cross is also a nonprofit partner with banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

Wells Fargo and Bank of America provided Harwell-Cross with information regarding the kind of mortgage assistance they are providing.

Bank of America shared information about its Hurricane Client Assistance Program. To contact Bank of America for information regarding the program, call 855-729-1764.

A Wells Fargo hotline with information regarding mortgage relief can be reached at 1-888-819-9147.

Harwell Cross will hold a town hall meeting to share information on disaster relief for Irma-related housing and mortgage issues from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at Old City Hall, 1229 Newcastle St., Brunswick.