Stay Home

On the evening of Friday March 20, 2020 Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the stay at home order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Ninety days into the effort to flatten the curve Multnomah county will be entering phase one of partial reopening this Friday. In the last few months many millions of people have lost their jobs, spent their savings, and their investments have declined in value. What will all of this mean for homeowners? It may be time to put a new twist on an old solution -home sharing, now aided by technology.


When the governor’s orders were issued millions of workers began staying home, schools closed, businesses and services stopped all activity, and the economy came grinding to a halt and many incomes trickled to a stop. As public cries for housing help reached the highest offices of elected and corporate leadership, state, federal, and corporate entities intervened to pause foreclosures and put a moratorium on evictions through June 30. 


Even with mortgages and rents on hold, there is still a housing problem on the horizon. This week the federal rent and mortgage grace period was extended through August, but many millions of homeowners and renters are still in trouble.  The federal mortgage forbearance was guaranteed to FHA-insured or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, or roughly one third of American mortgages. Those who have not been paying their mortgages under this program, or through an agreement with their lender, will have to pay the back due balance once the period has ended. Sometimes this repayment will be in a lump sum, or in other arrangements payments will be made in installations. Either way, those who are unemployed or whose income was otherwise impacted will have real trouble paying. 


In May the national unemployment rate topped 13.3%, about one percent less than the 14.2% reported by Oregon for the same month. About 400,000 Oregonians and over 40 million Americans have become unemployed since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. Countless others have lost hours, tips, and other forms of income. In the new, pandemic-stricken, economy there are grave concerns about peoples’ ability to pay when the bill comes due.


Homeowners are in need of support to maintain their home ownership. Short term rentals, once an important income stream for some homeowners, are also down and generating far less revenue in the era of coronavirus. Meanwhile many millions of Americans without work, who will not be able to pay their back rent without a job, are looking for an affordable place to live. Low employment, diminished retirement, and dwindling forms of secondary income make it imperative to think creatively about how to keep more people from becoming homeless and losing what is often their only asset, their home. 


Home sharing with the aid of technology is a new way to think of a tried and true solution.  I am working with Oregon Harbor of Hope, an innovative local nonprofit organization, to build a new home sharing program that will open this July.  Home Share Oregon combines compatibility-matching software powered by Silvernest, paired with support services. To learn more, and to be the first to know when Home Share Oregon goes live, sign up for the Home Share Newsletter, here.