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Ohio Agency to Turn Away Distressed Homeowners Due to Budget Cuts

According to ""Empowering and Strengthening Ohio's People"":http://esop-cleveland.org/ (ESOP), a non-profit foreclosure prevention counseling agency, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency's (OHFA) failure to distribute funding - in addition to federal budget cuts - means turning away some homeowners.

Starting Tuesday, ESOP says it will be forced to stop taking in homeowners referred from the ""National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling"":http://www.nw.org/network/foreclosure/nfmcp/ program, which was established by[IMAGE] [COLUMN_BREAK]

Congress in 2007 and is administered by ""NeighborWorks America"":http://www.nw.org.

""This is the last thing we want to do,"" said ESOP executive director, Mark Seifert. ""Our staff of foreclosure prevention counselors is truly dedicated to helping people stay in their homes.""

OHFA funded ESOP to assist 820 homeowners last year. However, ESOP actually helped 4,073, saving more than 3,200 homes from foreclosure. According to the agency, federal funding budget cuts are scheduled this week for programs designed to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, which means ESOP will struggle to compensate counselors.

However, Seifert says the agency's counselors will make efforts to help homeowners through other programs. ""We have some partnerships that we can still use to help people save their homes,"" he said. ""But those resources are limited too.""

ESOP is HUD certified and has 10 offices across Ohio. In the last six years, more than 16,500 families have come to ESOP seeking assistance.

About Author: Heather Cernoch

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