Mortgage Crisis Hotline is "silver rights" in action

LOS ANGELES, CA – November 11, 2008 – In an effort to save homeownership and the American dream during a time of crisis for many mortgage holders, Operation HOPE, Inc. has fielded nearly 40,000 calls for assistance and maintained an average of 4,176 active client files from 148 lenders and servicers since establishing the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline (MHCH) in April 2007.

Individuals needing assistance can call the hotline weekdays toll-free at 888-388-HOPE (4673).

Through the Hotline, foreclosures are delayed and loan modifications are negotiated weekly. As of October 31st, the MHCH has prevented 257 foreclosures through loan modification or no action agreements and assisted an additional 145 clients, working through more than $100 million in challenged mortgages. Collaborative efforts by all segments of the financial services industry, government agencies and community organizations have provided solutions to the growing problem before it cripples the economy.

The Hotline receives calls on a regular basis and each client is assigned to a dedicated HOPE mortgage counselor, and in some cases a Virtual HOPE Corps volunteer, who works with the client until the loan is modified or another outcome has been reached, sometimes without lender cooperation.

Many homeowners face overwhelming challenges as their interest rate and monthly payments have increased. Homeowners with mortgage challenges can call the MHCH at 888-388-HOPE (4673) for free services including:

  • How to negotiate with your lender
  • How to apply for loan modifications
  • How to avoid foreclosure
  • How to sell a house and purchase an affordable home
  • How to restructure your existing debt and obligations

In 2006, the Operation HOPE Banking Center homeownership counselors began to see clients that expressed concerns with their ability to make mortgage payments if the interest rate increased on their adjustable rate loans. These realities prompted John Hope Bryant, Operation HOPE founder and chairman, to focus on adjustable and payment option mortgages and the affect on American homeownership.

"Our goal is to maximize the preservation of homeownership while minimizing foreclosures and assist borrowers who have the willingness and wherewithal to remain in their homes and the MHCH has played a key role to accomplish just that," noted Bryant, who also serves as vice chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. "Making financial services that help people help themselves is all a part of our "silver rights" mission to empower the underserved. As Americans recover from the mortgage meltdown, financial literacy is more important than ever."

Under the direction of Fred Smith, HOPE Coalition America managing director and former Deputy Treasurer of the State of California, the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline is supported by two call centers capable of handling 5,000 calls a day. The MHCH is managed by HOPE’s financial emergency planning and recovery division, HOPE Coalition America, and facilitated through its HOPE Banking Center Network.

The MHCH currently maintains a collaborative relationship with Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. (an affiliate of NeighborWorks America), and the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, making it possible for homeowners to obtain invaluable information and guidance through the current housing crisis many find themselves in. Trained foreclosure prevention counselors,  including HOPE employees and professionals from the mortgage industry, are helping homeowners establish a realistic monthly budget, negotiate payments consistent with their ability to pay, or help them through the home downsizing process.

The MHCH was launched originally in partnership with Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, and is now operating throughout the state of California, and when requested, with homeowners nationwide.

The MHCH is sponsored by lead partner and call center sponsor First American Corporation, with additional sponsor support provided by HSBC, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.  "While all of our partners are important, and we could not do this important work without their support, without First American Corporation there would be no Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline, nor for that matter our response to Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Ike."  Bryant continued, "First American Corporation has literally made their call center facilities available to the HOPE family, and have consistently subsidized the cost of five full-time HOPE counselors, and their Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Frank McMahon now serves on our national board of directors. We are ho nored to be associated with First American, and thankful for the support provided by Bank of America, HSBC, Wells Fargo and others around this mortgage crisis."

About Operation HOPE, Inc.
Founded in 1992, immediately following the worst urban riot in U.S. history, Operation HOPE is America’s leading nonprofit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization. With more than 400 private sector partners, 1500 nonprofit organizations and schools, and 100 government partners serving 68 under-served communities in the U.S. cities as well as South Africa, Operation HOPE has raised more than $400 million in its pursuit of educating, assisting and inspiring the next generation of global "silver rights" stakeholders. Through international initiatives and its principal programs: Banking on Our Future (teaching school children about money), HOPE Coalition America (Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline, 1-888-388-HOPE, financial emergency preparedness and disaster relief), HOPE Advisors and the HOPE Banking Center Network (loans, bill pay, computer literacy, understanding banking principles), Operation HOPE has assumed the responsibility of piloting the Silver Rights Movement towards making free enterprise and capitalism relevant to all under-served communities. Civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young is the global spokesman for Operation HOPE. More information about the organization can be found at www.operationhope.org.

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