Homeowners Get Help in DC, But Not From Government

08/26/2009 11:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Matthew Palevsky Co-Founder and Campaign Director,; former citizen journalism editor at The Huffington Post

Foreclosure signs that litter American lawns have been the prevailing image of the housing crisis until this week, when thousands of homeowners lined sixtieth street, 3 blocks from the White House, waiting for help to lower their mortgage rates. While Congress discussed how best to bail out Fannie May and Freddie Mac, a non-profit organization called The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) was providing consulting for mortgage restructuring to people on the verge of losing their home.

The five day event, called "Save the Dream of Home Ownership", ended on Wednesday after providing assistance to over ten thousand people. Angie Bailey, who stood in line for 3 hours waiting for financial counseling, said her lenders refused to answer her calls and she claimed that the government turned its back on her.

"The guidelines for the HOPE program are too stringent," Mrs. Baily said, speaking to the government assistance program managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "It's for people who are paying on time and don't have any blemishes. Well that's not the people out here. We're late on our mortgages. We need help, because we didn't ask for this."

Once inside, homeowners attend several hours of financial education before they can receive one-on-one assistance. After copying and scanning their financial documents, attendees create an exhaustive spreadsheet of their income and expenditures. Finally, NACA helps create a restructuring proposal that is sent to the lenders. Many people succeeded in convincing their mortgage holders to lower the monthly rate, while others never received a response to their proposal. A NACA representative said that of all the major banks only Wells Fargo had not agreed to work with NACA attendees.

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