I worry that our "Mortgage Late? Don't Wait!" message may begin to fall on deaf ears. We've been fighting this foreclosure crisis for well over five years, now. Our Office of Community Outreach has participated in nearly 700 foreclosure prevention workshops and forums and we have reached well over one million Marylanders through direct mail, our website, advertising and our 24-hour MD HOPE Hotline.
Our message has been simple: if you are late on your mortgage, do not wait to call us for help!
But sometimes, when you say the same thing over and over again, the very people you need to reach will begin to tune you out. We know how scary it can be for a family to face losing their home; it is like seeing all of your hopes and dreams collapse into a nightmare. We know that a homeowner engulfed in such a nightmare can reach a point of paralysis and indecision that is a lot like being in shock.
Yet there is nothing we can say that gets more directly to the point: We cannot save every home. But we can help every homeowner who contacts one of our MD HOPE counselors navigate the Byzantine foreclosure process and find the best, most sustainable solution for their family.
Many families may receive mailings from DHCD in upcoming days. I urge you to open them. Those letters will contain important information about upcoming workshops and forums, designed to put you in direct contact with the resources and the information you need.
Refi Workshop Brings Homeowners and Lenders Together
More than 500 homeowners met face-to-face with lenders and nonprofit housing counselors on April 6 to get help refinancing through the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program, which is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. Read More
F E A T U R E S T O R I E S
Sesame Street is Helping Families in Financial Trouble
Face the Tough Questions
Elmo, the iconic Sesame Street Muppet asks, "Why isn't mommy at work today?"
That's a tough question from a Muppet; it's even tougher from a small child whose parents are in danger of losing their home..
Sesame Street has launched the "Families Stand Together" initiative to help families find ways to address that and many other questions as even many middle class families struggle with the stress and uncertainty in the wake of one of the most prolonged economic downturns since the Great Depression. Read More
Foreclosure Mediation Works -
But You've Got to Work At It
Maryland counselors have been urging families to explore mediation as a means of bringing the lender to the negotiating table to find sustainable alternatives to foreclosure.
But even with mediation, the path to a solution isn't easy.
"Even people working with this on a daily basis sometimes come in thinking mediation will bring about a magical transformation in the lender, but it doesn't," says Jessica Smith-Harper of Mid-Shore Pro Bono, a legal services counseling agency on the Eastern Shore. "But, in the end - in almost every case - a decision is eventually made that is favorable to the homeowner. Even if it's not exactly what they hoped for, in almost every case the result is close enough for the homeowner to be able to regroup financially and move forward. They just have to stick with it and be persistent." Read More
I N T H E N E W S
Foreclosures Rose in 2012, But Remained Below National Average
Maryland foreclosures rose nearly 20 percent in 2012 as lenders, encouraged by the state's improving housing market, finally began addressing their backlog of seriously delinquent loans. Read More
Maryland Foreclosure Prevention Counseling Agencies Get $11.8M
Secretary Skinner joined Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Douglas Gansler to announce the award of $11.8 million over three years to the 39 foreclosure prevention counseling agencies belonging to the MD HOPE Counseling Network. Read More
Mortgage Settlement Relief in Maryland Exceeds $1.1 Billion
Distressed Maryland homeowners received more than $1.1 billion in relief through the National Mortgage Settlement during the first 10 months of the program, according to a progress report by the court-appointed monitor. Read More
Secretary Skinner Talks About Seeking Help on WEAA Radio
Secretary Skinner urged homeowners facing foreclosure to seek help as early as possible by calling the Maryland HOPE Hotline Counseling Network at (877) 462-7555.
"I certainly would encourage people in financial difficulty not to go it alone in terms of working with their lender," Secretary Skinner said during an interview with hostess Deborah Owens on WEAA-FM Wealthy Radio. Read More
When Seventh District Congressman Elijah Cummings worked in partnership with DHCD to host his first foreclosure prevention workshop in June 2009, the response was overwhelming. Nearly 1,000 distressed homeowners showed up to meet face-to-face with counselors, lenders and pro bono attorneys during the one-day event. Read More
Study: Homeowners Less Likely to Default if They Get Counseling Before They Buy
A new study is confirming what intuition and common sense already suggested: homeowners who went through pre-purchase counseling were less likely to fall behind in their mortgage payments than those who didn't. Read More