New YorK (CNNMoney.com) - Mortgage borrowers hurt by the Gulf oil spill may qualify for temporary relief from paying their mortgages, without fear of losing their homes.
Citigroup's CitiMortgage unit announced Wednesday that it would suspend all foreclosure sales and filings for 90 days, through Sept. 17, on its Gulf properties. The policy applies only to first mortgages on homes that are within 25 miles of the coast.
Fannie Mae, the government-supported mortgage company, also touted its own relief policy Wednesday, saying that servicers of Fannie-backed loans may immediately suspend or lower payments on mortgages for borrowers whose income or property were affected by the spill.
"This was a reiteration of special relief policies that Fannie Mae has had for a while," said Janis Smith, a spokeswoman for Fannie.
"Borrowers who hope to obtain relief under this policy should call their servicers right away," Smith said. "They should not sit around waiting for a call."
Under the Fannie Mae program, servicers can offer to postpone or lower payments for up to 90 days, during which the servicer is expected to verify the borrower's income loss or the damage the oil spill may have done to their property.
Freddie Mac, the other government-supported mortgage giant, will grant up to six months forbearance to victims of the oil spill.
Washington (CNN) - BP has reached an agreement with the federal government to place $20 billion in an escrow fund to pay for claims in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, President Barack Obama announced at the White House on Wednesday. The amount does not represent a total cap on the amount the oil giant may ultimately have to pay, the president said.
Obama's announcement came at the conclusion of a lengthy White House meeting between top administration and BP officials.
The $20 billion fund will be administered by an independent third party, Obama said. Attorney Kenneth Feinberg - who oversaw the compensation fund for victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks - will oversee the claims process, he added.
The fund "will not supersede individuals' or states' rights to present claims in court," he said. BP, he asserted, will remain liable for the environmental disaster in the Gulf.
BP has also voluntarily agreed to create a $100 million fund for the purpose of compensating oil rig workers now unemployed as a result of closure of other deepwater rigs after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion, Obama said.
Washington (CNN) - Many Americans believe that some beaches and wildlife affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will never recover, according to a new national poll. Also, more than four in five think the oil spill will hurt the country's economy, with 79 percent adding that American consumers will see a jump in gas and food prices.
A USA Today/Gallup survey released Wednesday also suggests a gender gap on the issue, with women respondents much more pessimistic than men. Six out of ten women say some beaches will never recover, compared to 37 percent of men. And 65 percent of females say some species may never return to pre-spill levels, compared to 52 percent of male respondents.
The poll indicates that overall, 59 percent of the public thinks that normal levels for some species hurt by the environmental catastrophe may never recover, with another one in five saying that it could take ten or more years for such species to recover. Forty-nine percent of people questioned say that some of the affected beaches will not recover, with another one in four adding that it will take a decade or longer for such beaches to return to normal.
Washington (CNN) - Nearly half of all Americans disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new national poll released hours before the president gives a prime-time address from the Oval Office on the crisis.
An AP-GfK survey released Tuesday indicates that 48-percent of the public disapproves of how Obama's handling the oil spill, up 15 percentage points from a month ago. Thirty-nine percent approve of how the president's dealing with the crisis, down three points from May. According to the survey, 13- percent say they neither approve nor disapprove.
Other recent polls also indicate that a minority of Americans approve of the way Obama and his administration are handling the massive spill.
The president's overall job approval stands at 50-percent in the new AP-GfK survey, up one point from a month ago.