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by Jill Lufrano
Jul 17, 2012 | 2787 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Andrea Risotto from the U.S. Treasury answers questions Tuesday at the Help for Homeowners Community event at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
Tribune/John Byrne - Andrea Risotto from the U.S. Treasury answers questions Tuesday at the Help for Homeowners Community event at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
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Tribune/John Byrne -  A Fannie Mae representative assists a woman with her questions Tuesday afternoon.
Tribune/John Byrne - A Fannie Mae representative assists a woman with her questions Tuesday afternoon.
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RENO — Danny walked with purpose, a heavy stack of paperwork in folders beneath his stocky right arm, and headed into the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Tuesday.

“My main goal is to improve my mortgage,” he said, not wanting to use his last name.

For the past year, Danny has spent many hours attempting to modify his mortgage without much success. He was only given a $40 reduction to his home loan and was told he was 192 percent upside down on his mortgage.

“I’m one year into this process and I can’t get anywhere with Wells Fargo,” he said. “This is ridiculous.”

The “Help for Homeowners Community Event,” a free face-to-face counseling service provided by the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program and the HOPE NOW Alliance, was held to help hundreds of northern Nevadans like Danny.

The seven-hour event was expected to bring in 500 or more struggling homeowners looking to speak to a representative from one of the 12 mortgage institutions to find answers, said Brad Dwin, spokesman for HOPE NOW.

“Helping them find a solution is very important,” Dwin said.

The program first came to northern Nevada in 2010 when 750 homeowners took advantage of it.

“Because Nevada was so hard hit a lot of homeowners reached out early on. A lot of homeowners got frustrated with foreclosure timelines. It decreased the urgency for help,” said Andrea Risotto, spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury. “Awareness is a big part of this.”

Nevada is one of only 18 states in the union, plus Washington, D.C., to be funded by the Obama administration’s “Hardest Hit Fund,” a last-resort type of program for homeowners who need help with monthly mortgage payment assistance, principal reduction, short-sale relocation assistance, second lien elimination and mortgage reinstatement.

The Nevada Hardest Hit Fund can be reached by calling 1-855-428-HELP (4357). Homeowners can also visit 10585 Double R Blvd., Suite B in Reno, or go online at www.NevadaHardestHitFund.NV.gov.

“It’s really serving as a model for the whole country,” Risotto said. “There are new opportunities for help today.”

Nevada was selected by the U.S. Treasury to receive the funding because of the state’s high foreclosure rate. The state was awarded $194 million in funds made available to qualified homeowners through a series of federal grants. The Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation, a non-profit program, oversees the fund. The organization serves to support he Nevada Housing Division, which is the state’s Housing Finance Agency.

The Nevada Hardest Hit Fund provides help to prevent avoidable foreclosures and keep homeowners in their homes.

People can also call a Homeowners Hope hotline, sponsored by HOPE NOW, at 888-995-HOPE.

Dwin also warned homeowners of the perils of numerous scams floating about in communities.

“There are a lot of scams out there,” Dwin said. “If someone asks you to pay money, it’s probably a fraud. We’ve shut down a bunch of those companies. If someone asks you to pay — don’t.”

For HUD-approved housing counseling agency help, call Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Southern Nevada at 337-6363 or 800-451-4505, email cccs@cccsnevada.org or visit www.cccsnevada.org. Nevada Legal Services can be reached at 284-3491 or by email at www.nlslaw.net. The Washoe County Department of Senior Services Senior Law Project can be reached at 328-2592.

The Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program was created to help struggling homeowners modify or refinance their mortgage payments to make them more affordable, or transition to more affordable housing to avoid preventable foreclosures. For more information, go to www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov.

HOPE NOW is the industry-created alliance of mortgage servicers, investors, counselors and other mortgage market participants, brought together by the Financial Services Roundtable, Housing Policy Council and Mortgage Bankers Association, that is implementing a coordinated plan to help as many homeowners as possible prevent foreclosure and stay in their homes. For more information, go online at www.HopeNow.com.

The face-to-face event will not return to northern Nevada this year, Dwin said. The partnership recently held a two-day event in Las Vegas in March, where 3,500 people attended.

“That was a big event,” Dwin said.
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