A person's hand is about to erase the word "FORECLOSURE" written on a green chalkboard.

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As many borrowers continue to emerge from forbearance due to pandemic-related aid, a government watchdog is encouraging lenders to help them avoid a potential foreclosure wave.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that as of March 1, more than 768,000 mortgage borrowers remain in active forbearance. Many of these consumers are at risk of foreclosure unless they receive loss mitigation assistance from their mortgage servicers, the CFPB says. With that in mind, the CFPB is urging greater distribution of the Homeowner Assistance Fund to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Lenders must work with state housing finance agencies and HUD-approved housing counselors to receive the funding. States have access to $9.961 billion in federal funding as part of the fund, which is intended to help homeowners recover from the impact of the pandemic. Funding is available through the program until Sept. 30, 2025.

The fund is a federal program that provides money to states, tribes, and territories to assist homeowners with housing-related costs. Consumers can use the money to pay their mortgage. This could allow struggling homeowners to enter loan modifications with lower payments.

“The CFPB is closely monitoring servicer conduct to ensure that they are complying with all applicable federal consumer financial laws and assisting consumers with resolving delinquencies and preventing avoidable foreclosures,” the bureau said in a statement. “As part of this monitoring, the CFPB will continue its heightened review of mortgage servicing complaints, including in particular complaints about challenges working with servicers to use HAF funds.”