WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — While taking care of his mother-in-law, who had a serious medical condition, Brian Martinez was laid off from his job after 33 years. Medical complications of his own set in, and while he eventually secured new employment, like millions of others in the United States, his income didn’t rebound and he and his wife found themselves struggling to pay their mortgage. After hearing about programs that help homeowners even if they haven’t fallen behind on their payments, Martinez sought help from the Adams County Housing Authority, a recipient of funds from the National Foreclosure Counseling Mitigation (NFMC) program, administered by NeighborWorks America.
“We were going through so much; we needed help,” Martinez says.
Help came in the form of a foreclosure prevention counselor who knew how to navigate the complicated mortgage modification process, which is different from a standard mortgage refinance for which Martinez and his wife couldn’t qualify, despite having strong credit.
With assistance, their payment was reduced by more than $300 per month and the family had financial breathing room. “If we had not gotten the assistance we did, we would be totally underwater right now. Their assistance was critical,” Martinez explained.
His and dozens of other stories of struggle, sacrifice and success are in the latest report on the NFMC program. The NFMC program was started in 2008 and has helped more than two million homeowners.
The report also stresses that homeowners continue to face challenges, including the need for better communication between housing counselors and mortgage servicers. Although homeowners who receive NFMC help are 1.5 times more likely to have an easier time paying their modified mortgage than homeowners who didn’t work with an NFMC counselor, and are three times more likely to receive a mortgage modification cure — both of which keep mortgage servicer expenses down — counselors and homeowners continue to hit servicer obstacles.
“A lot has improved since the foreclosure crisis spiked a decade ago,” explained Nicole Harmon, vice president, foreclosure mitigation at NeighborWorks America. “Servicers are more responsive, but can do more.
Homeowners have to be full partners, too. They need to know that there is help out there with the process and that early intervention works best. These housing counselors will work harder than anyone could imagine to help a borrower find a solution that works.”
About NeighborWorks America
For more than 35 years, NeighborWorks America, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit, has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $27.2 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation’s leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.