I was in Dallas at the start of this week, talking about the housing market on a panel moderated by FOX News' Chris Wallace. After my panel was over, I snuck in to hear Colleen Hernandez, CEO of the not-for-profit Homeownership Preservation Foundation, talk about how four million financially distressed homeowners have called the Homeowner's HOPE Hotline (1-888-995-HOPE) over the past two years.
I wonder what sort of answers they got. Some were told they couldn't be helped. Many were put into temporary loan modifications that unknowingly destroyed their credit. But some were able to get permanent loan modifications.
Here is the full press release that was officially released today:
September 22, 2010 - Washington D.C. - The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), which provides information and financial education to guide consumers toward the path of sustainable homeownership, announces today that it has helped over four million distressed homeowners through its Homeowner's HOPE Hotline (1-888-995-HOPE). Since the financial crisis began in 2008, homeowners have called the Hotline seeking guidance and information about how to avoid foreclosure.Clearly, 4 million homeowners haven't been given permanent loan modifications under the government's HAMP program. But it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall, listening to some of these 5,000+ calls per day to get a better understanding of who is being helped and why.
HPF's Homeowner's HOPE Hotline, which provides help with a free, comprehensive foreclosure prevention counseling service, is available to homeowners 24/7, 365 days a year, in over 170 languages. In addition, HPF provides financial education is available at to homeowners who lack basic essential information needed to build and maintain good credit, develop a budget, buy a home, and be prepared for the full costs of sustainable homeownership.
"The foreclosure crisis that we are facing has had a far reaching and severe impact on the housing industry and the economy, but none more devastating than on individuals and families who face foreclosure," said Colleen Hernandez, CEO of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. "While HPF is proud to be the trusted ally that four million distressed homeowners have turned to, at the same time, it is alarming to know that more families than ever need help resolving their mortgage and financial issues," said Hernandez.
"Homeowners who call the Hotline find the support and information they need. Based upon the surveys of the homeowners we've counseled, we know that 86 percent said they were better able to understand their options after talking with our counselors," said Hernandez. "While it's generally known that distressed homeowners find it difficult to obtain information and assistance from their servicers, we know that 50 percent of those surveyed said they made direct contact with their servicer with the help of our Hotline counselors and 34 percent said their servicer was more willing to work with after they had been counseled," said Hernandez.
The Homeowner's HOPE Hotline has received over 122,000 calls per month in 2010, or over 5,500 calls from homeowners each day. The Hotline received more than 1.77 million calls in 2009 and 1.3 million calls in 2008.
"The volume of calls to HPF is a strong indication of the value that distressed homeowners receive through independent, third-party, foreclosure prevention counseling. Through its partnership with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, private investors, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and NeighborWorks America, HPF has demonstrated the success and the strength of public and private partnering in helping to alleviate this crisis," said Bruce Paradis, founder and Chairman of the Board.
"Home foreclosures have had a profound effect on the economy, reducing job growth, hurting tax revenues and hitting consumer spending. The Homeowner's HOPE Hotline is the first step to help homeowners regain control of their financial situation. Working to help homeowners avoid foreclosure is a positive step toward restoring the confidence of consumers, businesses, and U.S. financial markets, which will provide a needed boost to our economy," said Paradis.
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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.