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Officials, locals help Atlantans with rent and mortgage amid coronavirus outbreak

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Organizations are assisting hourly employees and others with payments, but resources are spread thin

Two rows of townhomes on either side of a green space with a sidewalk in the middle. RodClementPhotography/Shutterstock

Since a novel coronavirus became an overshadowing factor for daily life around the world, mortgage and interest rates have dropped substantially (before spiking again, in the case of mortgages), signaling a potentially opportune time to put a down payment on a home.

But what about folks who already have a mortgage or upcoming rent payment? What about the people whose income has been slashed as COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, forces businesses to shutter?

For many, times are tough now, but there are options. At least a few.

As bars and restaurants close—or shift to take-out-only operations—many owners and managers have taken to the web to raise funds for employees who typically rely on tips to get by.

Online fundraisers have cropped up all over town and across the country in an effort to ensure hourly workers can keep paying their landlords or mortgage payments.

Additionally, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Tuesday issued an executive order placing a temporary halt on residential evictions for two months.

“The ability for Atlanta residents to remain in their homes is a key component of our collective community efforts to prevent further exposure and spread of this virus,” Bottoms said in a statement.

Granted, that doesn’t mean renters wouldn’t still owe back rent if they’re behind on bills when this pandemic is over.

Organizations like Giving Kitchen also allow food service workers to apply for assistance in times of strife, although with such a widespread illness, their resources are spread thin.

“[Giving Kitchen] may be able to pay rent/mortgage and utility bills for food service workers in Georgia working for a restaurant, food truck, catering, or concessions up to six months,” reads a blog post by the organization.

Atlanta sports stars Matt Ryan, the Falcons’s quarterback, and Freddie Freeman, Braves’s first baseman, each contributed $50,000 to the charity this week. Ryan chipped in another $50,000 to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, as Eater Atlanta reports.

For homeowners, there is consolation in these trying times.

Homeowners who lost income or their jobs due to the coronavirus could be eligible for a reduction or suspension of mortgage payments, according to NPR.

Federal regulators, by way of mortgage loan companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have asked lenders to provide homeowners with some wiggle room, such as a forbearance of up to a year.