Do NOT Call 888-995-HOPE for help! Read on to learn why.
The government’s flagship 995 Hope program to give struggling homeowners relief from overwhelming mortgage payments has left hundreds if not thousands of callers frustrated by long wait times, lack of follow-up and relatively minor loan modifications that have failed to help.
A story last week on msnbc.com generated hundreds of e-mail responses from readers who have called the heavily promoted hotline. Almost all the callers said they encountered a variety of roadblocks in their efforts to save their homes.
But the Hope Now hotline has left many callers frustrated and without hope, judging from e-mail correspondence. Readers report difficulty getting through to hotline counselors, cursory reviews of their cases, lack of follow-up, confusion over who is eligible for help, and, for those who did reach lenders, relatively minor loan modifications that weren’t sustainable over the long term.
“I was fortunate to find a helpline like HOPE, which helped with the depression I was going through of losing my home,” said a reader named Yenny from Roselle, N.J. “The problem is the loan modification that I just got from my lender is higher, and I cannot afford it. What do I do now?”
So is this the Hope that they are selling now? Does 995 Hope truly work for the consumer or the lender best interests?
These are all questions that I think we should be asking ourselves as hundreds of thousands of people lose their homes as lenders parade a phone number labeled the Hope line. Think about this. The same guys that sold you a loan that is causing you to lose your home are now telling you to call some number to get help.
What if you are the victim of fraud or predatory lending? Will your Hope counselor direct you to the proper legal council to remedy your situation and sue your lender, like you should. I HIGHLY doubt that!
Have you had a similar experience calling for help. Please let your voice be heard.This is frome the 995 Hope website-
The Homeownership Preservation Foundation, in partnership with mortgage lenders, nonprofit organizations and city government agencies, provides homeowners with counseling and resources to help homeowners resolve their mortgage troubles. Homeowners who call the 888-995-HOPE number can receive free advice and counseling from nonprofit, HUD-certified organizations – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also visit their website at www.995HOPE.org .
The popular homeowner hotline received more than 14,000 calls during the first quarter of 2007, a 30 percent increase over the fourth quarter 2006. More than 25,000 homeowners called the hotline in all of 2006. In April they were receiving over 300 calls a day. The hot line counseled 15,207 people in the second quarter, analyzing their budgets in detail. Of those, 26 percent were told they might qualify for a loan workout, according to Tracy Morgan, a spokeswoman for the group. Another 28 percent were told to try to improve their budgets then seek a workout. source San Francisco Chronicle
That was then and in only 5 months and now they are reporting over 1,000 calls per day in this CNN Money report: Here are some quotes from that article:
“Tracy Morgan is a spokeswoman for the Home Ownership Preservation Foundation, which operates a foreclosure hotline (1-800-995-HOPE) for Neighborworks. Last year, she said, the hotline handled about 75 calls a day nationwide. By June, 2007, the number ballooned to 750. For this September, the average day has brought about 1,300 calls.
“Morgan traces most of that increase to the subprime meltdown. California, where a high percentage of mortgages were subprime adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), has become the number one caller state.”
“By working with non-profits, rather than approaching lenders directly, borrowers can improve their work-out prospects, according to Morgan.”
“We work at a high level with 17 or 18 major servicers,” she said. “You have an advocate that really knows the ins and outs, has the contacts and can facilitate the work-out process.”
“Counselors bypass the collections departments of lenders in favor of mitigation departments, where they can get things done. Sometimes the advice is to hold off before contacting a lender.”
“We can look at a borrower and say, ‘You’re not a good candidate for a work-out right now,'” said Morgan. “‘Take three months to repair your credit score, find some extra income by renting out a room to a relative or taking a part-time job. Then, you can go back to the lender in a much stronger bargaining position.'”
“Foreclosure really damages your potential to be a home owner again, or even a renter,” said Morgan”.
This is from the 995 HOPE website on what they do during the counseling process and their affiliate non-profits.
The counselors for the 888-995-HOPE hotline are provided by five leading HUD-approved nonprofit allies – Auriton Solutions, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Atlanta, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of San Francisco, Novadebt, and Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management.
Counselors are certified and trained to set up a plan of action designed just for you and your situation. Spanish-speaking counselors are also available. When you talk to us, you won’t be judged and you won’t pay a dime.
We don’t just offer general advice – we help you take action. Representatives will arm you with education and support that assists you in overcoming immediate financial issues.”
“(I) received information that I was not previously aware of… (which) provided me with a sense of direction before taking my next step.”
— Homeowner, Iowa
This is what you should expect when you call from the 995 HOPE website.
What to expect
First and foremost, expect to speak with a respectful, non-judgmental counselor who wants to help you. After an introduction and an explanation of your counselor’s role in the process, you’ll be asked about the reason you called. When it comes to discussing finances revolving around foreclosure, complete honesty is the best policy. The more focused a picture we have of your financial situation, the better equipped we are to help you deal with it. After your counselor accurately restates your challenge, you’ll lay out goals together, and you’ll receive recommendations on how to accomplish those objectives.
What to have ready
If possible, try to have a list of the major bills you pay every month at hand when you call. Chief among these should be your mortgage payment statement complete with your mortgage loan number. Having these close will help your counselor build an accurate assessment of your financial situation.
Things you should know
Homeowner’s HOPE provides free counseling – we do not do refinancing, down payment assistance or provide loans. But we can connect you with local nonprofit resources that provide different kinds of assistance.
Although we have an excellent working relationship with many of the nation’s largest mortgage companies, we cannot force a mortgage company to eliminate debt, forgive payments or dictate solutions.
We are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most importantly, we want to help. Remember, the sooner you make the courageous decision to call us, the more we can do to help you right your financial ship.
About the Homeownership Preservation Foundation
The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) is a Minneapolis-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to reducing foreclosures and preserving homeownership for American homeowners. The Foundation was formed in September 2004 with a $20 million seed contribution from GMAC ResCap (Residential Capital, LLC), one of the nation’s largest real estate finance companies. The Foundation partners with city, county and state governments; federal government agencies; community-based non-profit organizations; and mortgage companies to offer creative solutions to preserve homeownership. For more information about the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, please visit http://www.hpfonline.org.