Housing counselors help homeowners with challenges


By Elizabeth Salkind

Special to The SUN

A new study out this week finds that homeowners who work with housing counselors are, on average, almost three times more likely to obtain a money-saving mortgage modification, nearly twice as likely to get caught up on missed mortgage payments and about 60 percent less likely to fall behind again. Moreover, homeowners who choose to sell their home when they owe more on it than it’s worth also come out better when working with a housing counselor than homeowners who don’t work with a housing counselor.

The research was done for NeighborWorks America by the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute and is based on analysis of nearly 240,000 homeowners with outcomes observed through June 2013.

More than 1.8 million homeowners have been helped by the National Foreclosure Mortgage Counseling Program (NFMC), administered by NeighborWorks America, since 2008. Housing Solutions for the Southwest has been a part of the NFMC program since 2008.

“If there was any lingering doubt about the value of NFMC counseling for homeowners, the research announced today should put those doubts to rest,” said Elizabeth Salkind, executive director of Housing Solutions for the Southwest. “When measured by the benefits to homeowners through reduced mortgage payments, becoming current on their loan or a lower chance of falling behind on payments again, we know that housing counseling delivers.”

Example: Sarah and John 

John experienced loss of income following a serious medical setback. Sarah was gainfully employed, but the family income became substantially less.

While John was applying for social security disability, paying the mortgage was a challenge and the couple faced the prospect of losing their home. They reached out to Housing Solutions for the Southwest, a nonprofit NFMC counseling agency in Durango, and the counselor worked with the couple and their lender to secure a mortgage modification, reducing their monthly payments by $900, saving more than $10,000 each year for the life of the loan. The couple is now able to afford to pay their mortgage and stay in their home.

Over the last 32 years, Housing Solutions has helped more than 25,000 individuals and families in the five-county area of Southwest Colorado. Housing Solutions operates multiple programs to help those in need with housing challenges, including emergency homeless prevention, utility assistance, transitional housing, homeowner rehabilitation, furnace repair and replacement, foreclosure prevention and reverse mortgage counseling.

Housing Solutions also administers the Community Emergency Assistance Collation and the Community Services Block Grant, which combined brings approximately $230,000 each year to individuals and other nonprofits serving those in need in the community.

For more information about Housing Solutions, contact Salkind at 259-1086, ext. 32 or esalkind@swhousingsolutions.com.