Surveys show many at-risk homeowners often fail to seek help. They may be embarrassed or don’t know where to turn. Stress can make dealing with credit problems even harder. Community leaders serve a crucial role by helping consumers find quality housing counselors at the first sign of trouble.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) maintains a database of HUD-approved counseling agencies. Additional information, including financing options, can be obtained from the Federal Housing Administration.
One important way to strengthen foreclosure outreach is to build strong partnerships with existing state and local coalitions and task forces.
If there are no existing coalitions or task forces in your area, you can start one by reaching out to grassroots and faith-based groups, legal aid offices, housing counseling organizations, community development organizations, and city and state consumer protection departments. Two good examples of state coalitions include:
Homeowner workshops and/or default clinics have proven successful in helping borrowers avoid foreclosure. They are held in accessible community locations such as convention centers, schools and public libraries. Sponsors invite troubled borrowers, issue media releases and post notices on websites and in public places.
Three basic models exist for effectively run workshops. They range from large events at which loan servicers and housing counselors meet face-to-face with borrowers to smaller events that are primarily educational in purpose.
Community leaders are employing many direct approaches to reach troubled homeowners, making use of information and materials available from local and national organizations:
Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
Mailings, Flyers and Press Releases
A number of national organizations and government agencies maintain rich informational websites to assist communities and consumers in dealing with foreclosure issues, including prevention, mitigation, counseling, loan modifications, neighborhood stabilization and foreclosure-rescue scams.
Enterprise Community Partners: Is a national nonprofit with more than 25 years of experience in the community development and affordable housing field.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation: Is a national nonprofit that helps local organizations access national resources and expertise.
NeighborWorks America: Was created by Congress to provide financial support, technical assistance and training for community-based revitalization efforts. It supports a wide range of programs:
The Homeownership Preservation Foundation: Provides information and videos that explain alternatives to foreclosure and operates a national hotline—888-995-Hope (4673)—available in both English and Spanish. Callers can be referred to local nonprofit counseling assistance.
HOPE NOW Alliance: Is a national alliance of more than 50 lenders, loan servicers and counseling organizations dedicated to preserving homeownership and minimizing foreclosures.
Making Home Affordable: The Obama administration has introduced a comprehensive Financial Stability Plan to address problems at the heart of the crisis and help make monthly mortgage payments more affordable for troubled homeowners.
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: Provides consumer and community information and includes sample public service announcements for radio.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): Provides consumers and community foreclosure assistance and links to foreclosure rescue and loan modification scam awareness resources.
The Federal Reserve Board of Governors: Provides foreclosure-help resources to both consumers and communities. It also connects with all 12 Federal Reserve Banks.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Provides links to consumer resources, government programs and government-approved, nonprofit counseling agencies.
Identifying and understanding the alternatives to foreclosure can help prevent problems before they occur or significantly reduce the pain. The government implemented a major program in 2009 to encourage loan modifications. Local housing counselors are good sources for helping consumers find options. Just understanding the different terms can guide consumers to the right course of action.
Renters Rights Information from the National Loan Income Housing Coalition
Foreclosure Rescue/Loan-Modification Scams