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HOPE NOW Enhances Outreach Events in 2010

As foreclosures continue to plague the nation, many at-risk homeowners are seeking help through home preservation events sponsored by the ""HOPE NOW alliance"":https://www.hopenow.com/, the Obama administration's ""Making Home Affordable Program"":http://makinghomeaffordable.gov/, and ""NeighborWorks America"":http://www.nw.org/network/home.asp.


The most recent of these events were held during the last week of January in both Fort Myers and Coral Springs, and HOPE NOW said more than 1,800 troubled homeowner flocked to the workshops for a chance to meet face-to-face with their mortgage servicer or a HUD-approved housing counselors. These events, which were the first of many planned nationwide for 2010, give homeowners an opportunity to find a solution to their mortgage troubles.

""We are pleased that so many homeowners across South Florida took advantage of the opportunity to meet directly with their servicers and non-profit counselors,"" said Faith Schwartz, executive director of HOPE NOW. ""The region has been hit hard by foreclosures, and it was important for these borrowers to learn about the available options to avoid foreclosure.""

HOPE NOW, an industry-created alliance of mortgage servicers, investors, counselors, and other mortgage market participants, said it has developed and is implementing a coordinated plan to help as many borrowers as possible prevent foreclosure and stay in their homes. In 2009, HOPE NOW saw 31,426 families come through the doors of its borrower outreach events

With its newly-enhanced homeownership preservations workshops, the alliance believes it can help even more at-risk borrowers in 2010. The approach to these workshops has been one of collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure borrowers get the most out of each event. While HOPE NOW said it realizes these face-to-face events just scratch the surface of the nation's foreclosure problem, the workshops provide an opportunity for borrowers to actually sit down face to face with their mortgage servicer or a nonprofit housing counselor to look for viable solutions for staying in their home.

""Due to growing unemployment and negative home equity, HOPE NOW and its members have significant challenges in helping more homeowners find alternatives to foreclosure,"" Schwartz said. ""Yet, HOPE NOW's mission of helping distressed borrowers avoid foreclosure, where possible, remains the same.""

In an effort to help more at-risk homeowners in 2010, HOPE NOW has taken a series of steps to enhance its outreach events. The length of the events has been extended to three days in critical markets such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Miami, and workshops in second-tier markets have been extended to two days. The alliance has invested in on-site technology upgrades to help facilitate an increase in ""on the spot"" decision making, and it has also established hard deadlines for consumer feedback after a homeownership preservation workshop.

According to Schwartz, converting Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) trial loan modifications into permanent modifications is a large focus for HOPE NOW members in 2010. While HAMP is not the only tool at the disposal of alliance members, HOPE NOW feels the success of this program is of paramount importance to the future of homeownership.

To help consumers better understand HAMP, HOPE NOW plans on holding consumer education forums well before an outreach event. During these forums, individuals will be provided with information on required documents to bring to the event, so their lender can determine whether or not they qualify for HAMP. In order to help collect all required documentation needed to make the conversion from a HAMP trial loan modification to a permanent loan modification, HOPE NOW has developed universal intake documents to streamline the process, and it is providing borrowers with detailed information on which documents are missing.

""HOPE NOW will continue its collaborative approach to the outreach events with NeighborWorks America and the regional ""Federal Reserve banks"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/, as well as local foreclosure task forces and non-profit ""HUD"":http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD-approved counseling organizations,"" Schwartz said. ""In addition, the ""U.S. Department of the Treasury"":http://www.treasury.gov/, ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/, and ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/, will play a key roles as co-sponsors at all outreach events for 2010.""

By working together across the industry and with the United States Government to help borrowers at risk of losing their homes, Schwartz believes the enhanced home preservation workshops exemplify the best of the HOPE NOW alliance. HOPE NOW is currently planning for February events in Texas and California, and there are 32 outreach events planned across the country for the remainder of 2010.

About Author: Brittany Dunn


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