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Housing Leaders Congregate to Seek Housing Market Solutions

NationalMortgageProfessional.com
Oct 10, 2011

More than 50 representatives of grassroots and national housing advocacy organizations engaged in a three-hour roundtable discussion with officials from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, HOPE NOW Alliance and Ocwen Financial Corporation on ways to address the national housing and mortgage crisis more effectively. The roundtable was hosted and moderated by mortgage servicer Ocwen. During the session, "America's Housing Crisis: Solutions to the Changing Landscape," which included remarks from human rights activist and author Kerry Kennedy, participants outlined a multitude of initiatives, including: ►Ways the Treasury Department's "Hardest Hit Program" is working with state and local governments to aid neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures. ►How the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are implementing new and creative solutions to help distressed homeowners through the servicer alignment initiative. ►Approaches to working with the Obama Administration so more distressed homeowners can qualify for loan modifications or other alternatives to foreclosure. ►Ways to help homeowners who are underemployed or unemployed and thus need state or federal assistance to qualify for mortgage resolutions. ►How greater collaboration between mortgage servicers and grassroots groups can lead to real-time solutions for homeowners—including early-on help that averts a foreclosure process. ►How increasing government budget allocations for community and grassroots organizations that provide housing and financial counseling—and streamlining the procedures for reimbursement for their work—can make a measurable difference for homeowners and mitigate the crisis. ►Ways in which Web technology can speed up community group outreach to and support for homeowners who need counseling and other supportive social services. ►Approaches to combating consumer and fair housing violations and other scams perpetrated on homeowners by groups that try to lure distressed borrowers into illegal and damaging home foreclosure prevention programs. "We've always been grateful for grassroots and housing advocacy groups' commitment to helping individuals stay in their homes. It's really a powerful thing when the objectives of the non-profit organizations align with ours, as we all work hard to help troubled homeowners, often through mortgage modifications," said Ronald Faris, Ocwen's chief executive officer and president. "Going to lengths to restructure mortgages and keep people in their homes is good for homeowners, investors, communities, our business and the economy overall. The meeting of the minds and generous sharing of experiences and ideas that occurred at the roundtable will energize all of us who are working to meet the challenges presented by the mortgage crisis." Other grassroots and housing advocacy groups participating in the discussion included: The Center for NYC Neighborhoods, The Community Law Center, Empowering and Strengthening Ohio's People (ESOP), HomeFreeUSA, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, National Council of LaRaza, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Housing Conference, National Urban League of D.C., Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Neighborworks America, Northwest Side Housing Center, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, Toledo Fair Housing Council and Working in Neighborhoods. "HUD non-profit counseling agencies are facing a shortfall in funding, yet the need remains for quality housing counseling to be available to distressed borrowers," said Faith Schwartz, executive director of HOPE NOW. "We need to effect a solution to allow this critical work to continue. Servicers, government and the investor community must continue to fund these efforts. This roundtable brought the stakeholders together and provided a forum for this discussion." The roundtable's keynote speaker, Kerry Kennedy, president and founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, said, "The work of community organizations in the struggle to prevent foreclosures and help distressed homeowners is invaluable. The problem and the task are daunting, but many of the solutions and programs are working. We must sustain and intensify the effort—and continue to search for new and creative approaches."
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