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Free Counseling Offered To Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

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HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – Homeowners struggling to meet their monthly mortgage demands and fear they may be headed to foreclosure are encouraged to head to Hollywood on Monday to meet with a counselor for free.

Sponsored by the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program, the HOPE NOW Alliance and NeighborWorks America, the “Homeowners Community Event” was held at the Westin Diplomat Resort on South Ocean Drive Monday.

Homeowners hoping to avoid foreclosure will be able to meet with a mortgage company representative or a HUD-approved counselor to work on a solution to help them stay in their home.  In some cases homeowners may be eligible to have their mortgage payments or interest rates reduced.

Click Here For Eligibility Requirements

The Making Home Affordable Program was created to help struggling homeowners modify or refinance their mortgage payments to make them more affordable.  According to their website, the program is “designed specifically to help those whose home values may have fallen relative to their mortgage values.  The program is available to homeowners with a first loan, owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, that is 80-125% of the value of the home.”

However, this program may not be as beneficial as it seems. A government accountability office report states that there is no clear and accurate “information on the success of the program” and that it “is not reaching the expected number of homeowners.”

Andrea Risotto with the U.S. Treasury Department told CBS4’s Gary Nelson that one of the biggest problems the program is facing is banks’ reluctance to participate. Bank of America, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and Ocwen have been the most problematic.

Some homeowners are leaving the event frustrated at the lack of organization and success. Many have filled out massive amounts of paperwork only to see it get lost.

But for others, this has been an opportunity to ease the financial stress their mortgages have been placing on them.

“A weight has been lifted off our shoulders,” said Debbie McGee, whose lender was able to lower her payment.

Those planning to attend should bring a monthly mortgage statement, two most recent pay stubs for everyone who contributes to paying the mortgage, documentation of income you receive from other sources (alimony, child support, etc.), and a utility bill with the homeowner’s name and address.   Homeowners who are self-employed should bring the most recent quarterly or year to date profit and loss statement along with two years of tax returns.

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