HOPE NOW, the private sector alliance of mortgage servicers, non-profit counselors and investors that has been working aggressively to prevent foreclosures and keep homeowners in their homes, has announced that it had begun a new initiative to encourage homeowners at serious risk of losing their homes to work with counseling agencies certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine options that will best serve their needs.
The "Reach Out" campaign is a targeted state-by-state initiative. The first initial phase of the campaign is an intensive effort targeted at Wisconsin homeowners who are 90-plus days delinquent. In collaboration with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), HOPE NOW and 11 of its member servicers have begun to mail letters to homeowners about the HUD-certified, free, legitimate counseling agencies in their area and to urge them to take advantage of the services these agencies provide to get help.
HOPE NOW plans to expand Reach Out to other states with the highest percentage of extremely delinquent borrowers, including New Jersey, Texas, South Carolina and Florida.
Faith Schwartz, HOPE NOW's executive director, said that working with a HUD-certified counseling agency is the best way a homeowner can be certain that they will actually get help. "HOPE NOW wants to make sure that homeowners are aware of the legitimate housing counseling services available to them in their community," she said. "Qualified, professional assistance is available at no cost to the homeowner and we want to be sure everyone who needs it actually gets it."
"We know that hundreds of homeowners are struggling with their mortgage but don't know where to turn. We hope that by lending our name to this campaign, people will see the importance of contacting their servicer. So far, more than 900 struggling homeowners have received letters from HOPE NOW and WHEDA, and hundreds more will be receiving letters," said Antonio Riley, executive director of WHEDA. "As the Executive Director of the state's housing authority, I strongly urge every Wisconsin resident who has received one of these letters to pick up the phone and call for help now."
Reach Out is an extension of HOPE NOWs ongoing efforts to contact at-risk homeowners. Since it began in October 2007, HOPE NOW has sent more than 4.1 million letters to borrowers 60+ days delinquent urging them to make contact with their servicer. A significantly higher percentage of homeowners typically respond to the HOPE NOW mailings than similar mailings from individual mortgage servicers.
EMC Mortgage executive director Dana Dillard, who helped design the "Reach Out" campaign for HOPE NOW, said, "The 'Reach Out' Campaign is one more way that HOPE NOW and its members are being proactive with the ultimate goal of keeping as many homeowners in their homes as we can."
The "Reach Out" campaign is just one part of HOPE NOW's aggressive five-prong homeowner outreach effort for 2009. In addition to "Reach Out" and the traditional mailing campaign, HOPE NOW is also in the midst of a "Bringing Hope Home" celebrity campaign headlined by Queen Latifah, is planning a phone-a-thon campaign for later this year, and plan to hold more than 30 homeowner outreach events across the country.
The 11 HOPE NOW servicer members participating in the "Reach Out" campaign include: American Home Mortgage, Bank of America, Carrington Financial, Countrywide Financial, HomEq Servicing, HSBC, Litton Loan Servicing, Ocwen Financial Corporation, Saxon Mortgage Service, Select Portfolio Servicing, SunTrust, Wells Fargo, and Wilshire.
For more information, visit www.hopenow.com.