Most of the stories are similar … your average American family with two working parents and two to three children, living in a modest home are beginning to feel the crush of economic hardship firsthand through the threat of losing their home. The ripple effect of high unemployment rates in struggling to survive as a homeowner in the 21st century has wreaked havoc on the nation, thrusting foreclosure and bankruptcy rates into record high territories.
That is where the HOPE NOW Alliance is trying to make a difference. HOPE NOW is an alliance between counselors, mortgage servicers, investors and other mortgage market participants with the collective goal of maximizing outreach efforts to homeowners in distress to help them stay in their homes. HOPE NOW’s nearly 70 member companies recognize that by working together to stamp out the foreclosure crisis, they will be a more effective force than by working solo.
HOPE NOW, along with co-sponsors the Making Home Affordable Program and NeighborWorks America, have organized a number of “Help for Homeowners Community Events” on their road show that bring the banks and servicers together, face-to-face, with homeowners looking for solutions to their problems. The common complaint from a customer seeking a modification is the chain of voicemails and departments they have to deal with and the mountain of paperwork required in order to get the modification process started.
Since 2008, HOPE NOW has hosted 60-plus homeownership outreach events, assisting approximately 59,000 families in the process. When an event is on the horizon, HOPE NOW notifies area lenders and banks. In turn, the banks and lenders send out mailings to their customers to notify them of the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a trained housing counselor at the Help for Homeowners Community Event. If a customer’s lending institution happens to not be on hand for the event, consumers are paired up with non-profit housing counselors who assist the homeowner through their situation. Homeowners are given a checklist of paperwork to bring in order to see if they qualify for HAMP or other alternatives from their lender.
“The personal contact a consumer has with a housing counselor is a plus,” said Alvina McHale, director of communications and marketing for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. “These events are a win-win situation for all involved as the borrower can discuss their situation directly with their financial institution.”
Lenders set up shop at the Nassau Coliseum to meet one-on-one with homeowners
At day one of a Help for Homeowners Community Event, held in late April on Long Island, N.Y. in Uniondale at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 646 cases were heard in a four-hour span by the lenders on hand. The doors for the event opened at 1:00 p.m., with many lining up as early as 6:00 a.m. in order to meet with their bank.
“There are a lot of borrowers out there who are confused about the whole process and need our help,” said Jamie Holland, compliance manager with Ocwen.
No matter the end result, HOPE NOW, its alliance partners—Making Home Affordable Program and NeighborWorks America—and their lender supporters are putting forth a strong concerted effort to save America’s homeowners. Their overall goal is to keep the American dream of homeownership alive and well, even in this current economic downturn.
Alvina McHale, director of communications and marketing for the U.S. Department of the Treasury with Jamie Holland, compliance manager with Ocwen, at the New York Help for Homeowners Community Event