(FinalCall.com) – When Cynthia Green heard about Foreclosure Intervention Day–Mortgage Solutions Now on Howard University’s WHUR she was skeptical. “It sounded good but there are too many schemes and scams out there. But when I heard this was a HUD approved company I knew I had to be there.”
So the 10-year homeowner drove from Baltimore to Hyattsville, Md. to HomeFree USA’s intervention to help more Blacks and Latinos keep their homes.
“I liked the program. Marcia Griffin did a good job explaining everything and I’m getting my paperwork together. My only concern is that the president’s Homeowner Affordability Program doesn’t cover FHA loans which is what I have. That will exclude a lot of people.”
Across the country in metropolitan areas where Black and Latino homeowners have been hardest hit by the mortgage meltdown helping people through the maze of foreclosure paperwork and legalese is what HomeFree USA prides itself in doing.
It’s one of only a few minority owned HUD-approved, nonprofit homeownership counseling organizations. They partnered with HOPE (Housing Options & Planning Enterprises, Inc.) and UCAP (United Communities Against Poverty), Bank of America, Fannie Mae and HBSC Bank April 25, to help distressed homeowners at their second Foreclosure Intervention Day.
“We helped 1,000 Metro D.C. homeowners avoid foreclosure at the beginning of the year, and we were ready to do the same for 1,000 more people,” said Marcia Griffin, founder and president of HomeFree-USA. “Our services are free and we know how the system works. We are an advocate for homeowners.”
The lines were long but the people were patient. Everyone had the same need to get help to save their home. Participants met with a HomeFree-USA specialist to start the process of modifying the homeowner’s mortgage to more affordable payments and terms, involving eventual negotiations with the lender.
The first Foreclosure Intervention Day was in Atlanta where there were also long lines and people in need of assistance. Since the event in D.C. another one was held in Boston with another one planned in Kansas City.
The company boasts an 85 percent success rate in helping homeowners either avoid foreclosure, refinance, have their mortgage payment reduced and /or their interest reduced.
They’ve signed up close to 400 people for foreclosure assistance. HomeFree-USA has grown in response to the demand to include a legal department that will work with families facing a sale date.
According to the Center for Responsible Lending almost 2.2 million subprime foreclosures will occur primarily in late 2008 through the end of 2009, up from their original 1.1 million estimate made in 2006.
Additionally they estimate that 40.6 million homes in neighborhoods surrounding those foreclosures will suffer price declines averaging over $8,667 per home and resulting in a $352 billion total decline in property values.
The Obama Administration has agreed to spend $50 billion to prevent foreclosures by modifying unaffordable loans to affordable terms. This news came as “O Happy Day” to the countless homeowners just waiting for their foreclosure letter in the mail.
While bailouts have been sent to Wall Street, economists believe that it will not rescue the economy or restore credit liquidity without stabilizing the housing market by preventing the huge glut of unnecessary foreclosures stemming from predatory and unaffordable mortgages.
With nearly standing room only, Mrs. Griffin presented the foreclosure intervention timeline and explained the items that homeowners need to begin the process. When a homeowner meets with a specialist they run a credit report, then they make an initial assessment of the homeowner’s current mortgage and discuss scenarios for a modified mortgage with lower payments.
Another meeting is then scheduled for the homeowner to return with their documentation (All written correspondence with the lender, most recent mortgage statement, paystubs (30 days), bank statements (last 30 days), tax returns (Individuals: last 2 years / Business Owners: last 3 years), copy of utility bills (last 30 days), original closing and refinance documents (especially if ARM reset).
At a second meeting, the HomeFree-USA counselor creates a monthly budget for the homeowner that includes a prospective, modified mortgage with new payments and terms.
The HomeFree-USA counselor contacts the lender and begins negotiating a loan modification based on the figures developed in consultation with the homeowner.
The modification takes about 60 days. The homeowner returns after the written modification has been successfully negotiated with the lender and is received by HomeFree-USA.
“I talked to someone over the phone at HomeFree, they told me to come today. I met with Mr. Herbert who was very informational and trustworthy,” said Toni Simmons.
Handling a possible foreclosure can be an introduction to the run around but not so at HomeFree.
“Awesome! Lots of information. Very helpful. For once, someone gave me options,” said Robin Anderson.
Knowing that the government was backing HomeFree reassured many.
Mrs. Griffin, “We are based in Metro D.C. and the federal government is behind us with HUD approval and congressional funding. We are ready to help our neighbors modify unaffordable mortgages.”
Randall Williams, “I got a lot of information. Hopefully, I’ll send some people who think they can’t get a loan modification.”
HomeFree-USA serves homeowners all across the country.
For more info visit www.homefreeusa.org.