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Walsh, banks, agree to mortgage deferral plan for coronavirus crisis

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced an agreement with 12 of the city’s largest housing lenders to offer mortgage deferment for up to three months for people who’ve been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced an agreement with 12 of the city’s largest housing lenders to offer mortgage deferment for up to three months for people who’ve been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.Dina Rudick/Globe staff/file 2015

A dozen local banks have agreed to defer mortgage payments for Boston homeowners hit by the coronavirus crisis.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Thursday announced an agreement with 12 of the city’s largest housing lenders to offer mortgage deferment for up to three months for people who’ve been financially impacted by the health crisis that has sickened thousands and shut down big swaths of the region’s economy.

“No person should have to worry about losing their home right now," Walsh said. “During these times of global uncertainty, homeowners and renters in Boston can be certain that we are doing everything we can to help ease the burden brought on by this pandemic and give them much-needed flexibility.”

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The deal with banks came about after several weeks of negotiations. They agreed not to charge late fees or report non-payments to credit rating agencies, and to spread out missed payments over future installments of a loan rather than require borrowers to catch up in one lump sum. The program applies to owner-occupants, but the city is hoping to craft something similar to assist small landlords, said a spokesman for the Department of Neighborhood Development.

In some cases, banks are already offering this sort of help to struggling homeowners, so joining Boston’s effort made sense to them.

“It’s pretty consistent with a lot of what we’re already doing,” said Carla Molina, a spokeswoman for Bank of America. “This helps everyone.”

Bank of America is the largest bank in the program, which includes 11 others: Boston Private, Cambridge Trust Company, Century Bank, Citizens Bank, City of Boston Credit Union, Dedham Savings Bank, Eastern Bank, Mortgage Network, Inc., Prime Lending, Salem Five Bank, and Santander Bank.

“Boston Private is pleased to expand our partnership with Mayor Walsh and the Department of Neighborhood Development to help our home mortgage borrowers who have been dramatically affected by COVID-19,” said Anthony DeChellis, CEO of Boston Private. “These are extraordinary times and we are proud to work together with the city on this coordinated response to ensure homeowners are able to stay in their homes.”

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Some banks often sell mortgages after writing them, or buy mortgages other banks have written. The city recommends homeowners call their mortgage servicers for more information.

The deal is the latest in a raft of moves city and state officials are rolling out to try and keep residents from losing their homes amid the wide, fast-moving, economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus outbreak. The Walsh Administration has set up a $3 million rental relief fund — applications were due Friday — and extended the due date on property taxes by a month. The Baker Administration has boosted emergency housing funding and ordered a halt to eviction proceedings in state-financed affordable housing. Housing courts are closed through early May, putting a halt on most evictions, and House and Senate lawmakers are poised to vote next week on a bill that would stop eviction proceedings entirely for 120 days.


Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.