Harvey sparks foreclosure fears

Late payments jump after flood

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas — As Jacob Lerma surveyed the skeletal beams of his suburban Houston home that was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, he kept muttering three words as he wondered if his family would ever be able to move back in: “I don’t know.”

Like many Texans whose homes were flooded during Harvey, Lerma faces mounting expenses and hasn’t paid his mortgage in months. His insurance payment wasn’t enough to rebuild his home, and he was only offered a small loan after applying with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. His last hope is a possible buyout from the city of Friendswood. In the meantime, he, his wife and two daughters will continue living with his parents.

“If the buyout doesn’t work and more money

doesn’t come from insurance, walking away from it might be our only option,” said Lerma, 27, who set up a GoFundMe page to help his family. “It’s just crazy to see this all taken away.”

Five months after Harvey flooded thousands of homes in the Houston area and along the Texas coast, reports by real estate and financial firms show the storm’s destruction caused a significant increase in mortgage delinquencies, prompting fears by nonprofit and legal aid groups about a possible wave of foreclosures in the coming months.