Foreclosure can have a devastating effect on families and communities. According to recent data, roughly one in 11 homeowners has missed two or more mortgage payments. As many Americans struggle with their mortgage payments and don’t know where to turn for help, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have joined forces with the Ad Council to launch a new phase of the Foreclosure Prevention Assistance Public Service Advertising (PSA) Campaign. Last year, media outlets across the country aired the first round of PSAs to increase the number of program participants. And this year, we have added new PSAs in both English and Spanish to encourage at-risk homeowners to call 888-995-HOPE to speak one-on-one with a HUD-approved housing expert to discuss the options that are available based on their individual circumstances.
One homeowner who did just that is Nina Carter of suburban Atlanta. After losing her job unexpectedly, Nina began having trouble making her mortgage payments on time. “I lost my job of over 30 years,” Nina recalls. “I got into some financial trouble, and got behind on my mortgage payments.” At first, Nina tried to contact her mortgage company, but found the process daunting and difficult and didn’t know what questions to ask. That’s when she sought assistance from a HUD-approved housing counselor by calling 888-995-HOPE. “I remember seeing a local advertisement for help with mortgage problems,” Nina said. “I decided to call to see what I could do to keep my home.”
Nina began working with Cassie Stanley, a HUD-approved housing counselor at NID-HCA Atlanta Metro. Cassie was able to help Nina apply for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) to begin making payments on a trial modification. Four months later, Nina was approved for a permanent modification, reducing her $947 mortgage payment to 31 percent of her gross monthly income, and saving over $230 every month. “I’m so very happy that NID assisted me. Cassie organized my paperwork, answered my questions, and had insight that helped me get through the process,” Nina said. “A lot of homeowners don’t know where to get help. Cassie got the ball rolling for me. I really appreciate that.”
Nearly a year later, Nina is still in her home and she is able to afford her monthly mortgage payments with the income she has now. “The modification gives me peace of mind,” Nina explained. “I don’t have to worry about staying in my home.”
Struggling homeowners should remember that they do not need to work through their concerns alone. When asked if she has any advice for other homeowners having trouble with their mortgage payments, Nina immediately said, “Call for assistance and don’t give up. Help is out there.”
Although it will take time for the housing market to recover fully, struggling homeowners have more options today than ever before to avoid foreclosure. The sooner a struggling homeowner takes action, the more options they usually have for the best possible outcome. To learn more about the campaign and free resources for homeowners at risk of foreclosure, visit MakingHomeAffordable.gov.
Phyllis Caldwell is Chief of Treasury’s Homeownership Preservation Office and Raphael Bostic is HUD Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research.