With national unemployment rates at more than 10 percent and the effects of the housing crisis seeing millions of foreclosures across the nation, Operation HOPE’s Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline continues to aid Americans seeking mortgage assistance. In an effort to save homeownership during a time of crisis for many mortgage holders, Operation HOPE continues to focus and provide assistance to those on the brink of foreclosure. Through the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline (MHCH) established in April 2007, the organization has fielded over 81,000 calls for assistance this year and maintained an average of 4,500 active client files from over 300 lenders and servicers. Individuals needing assistance can reach an operator 24-hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 888-388-HOPE (4673).
Through the hotline, foreclosures are delayed and loan modifications are negotiated. As of November 30, 2009, the MHCH has prevented 1300 foreclosures through loan modification, forbearance agreements or no action agreements and have disputed more than $290 million in challenged mortgages. Collaborative efforts by all segments of the financial services industry, government agencies and community organizations have moved to action providing solutions to the growing problem before it cripples the economy.
As we have seen in the last two and a half years, many homeowners face overwhelming challenges as their interest rate and monthly payments have increased and the value of their homes have plummeted. Homeowners with mortgage challenges can call the Hotline for free services including:
► How to negotiate with your lender
► How to apply for loan modifications
► How to avoid foreclosure
► How to sell a house and purchase an affordable home
► How to restructure your existing debt and obligations
The realities of the housing crisis prompted John Hope Bryant, the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, to come to the aid of Americans facing this crisis in homeownership.
"Our goal is to maximize the preservation of homeownership while minimizing foreclosures and assist borrowers who have the willingness and wherewithal to remain in their homes and the MHCH has played a key role to accomplish just that," noted Bryant. "Making financial services that help people help themselves is all a part of our 'silver rights' mission to empower the under-served. As Americans recover from the mortgage meltdown, financial literacy is more important than ever."
Under the direction of HOPE’s EVP Lance Triggs, and HOPE Coalition America managing director and former Deputy Treasurer of the State of California Fred Smith, the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline is supported by two call centers capable of handling 5,000 calls a day. The MHCH is managed by HOPE's financial emergency planning and recovery division, HOPE Coalition America, and facilitated through its HOPE Banking Center Network.
As the recent crisis has demonstrated there is a need in this country for financial literacy, and John Hope Bryant has made it his quest to do something about it. Bryant, Vice Chairman of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, strives to inspire Congress to consider legislation that will help avoid this kind of crisis in the future. Through his efforts and his financial literacy programs, Bryant has accomplished just that.
There are currently seventeen financial literacy bills being proposed on Capitol Hill. Bill HR 1325, introduced by Congresswoman Shelia Jackson-Lee, was directly inspired by the work of the President’s Council on Financial Literacy and Operation HOPE’s Banking on Our Future program. As well, House Resolution 65 by Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, makes financial literacy a legislative priority and brings the promise of financial literacy into the lives of every American.
The MHCH currently maintains a collaborative relationship with Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. (an affiliate of NeighborWorks America), and the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, making it possible for homeowners to obtain invaluable information and guidance through the current housing crisis many find themselves in. Trained foreclosure prevention counselors, including HOPE employees and professionals from the mortgage industry, are helping homeowners establish a realistic monthly budget, negotiate payments consistent with their ability to pay, or help them through the home downsizing process.
The MHCH was launched originally in partnership with Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, and is now operating nationwide.
The MHCH is sponsored by lead partner and call center sponsor First American Corporation, with additional sponsor support provided by HSBC, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. "While all of our partners are important, and we could not do this important work without their support, without First American Corporation there would be no Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline, nor for that matter our response to Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Ike." Bryant continued, "First American Corporation has literally made their call center facilities available to the HOPE family, and have consistently subsidized the cost of five full-time HOPE counselors, and their Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Frank McMahon now serves on our national board of directors. We are honored to be associated with First American, and thankful for the support provided by Bank of America, HSBC, Wells Fargo and others around this mortgage crisis."
For more information, visit www.operationhope.org.