By Sean Coffey, Program Manager
I am excited to announce that the ForeclosureHelpSCC program re-opened on July 17, and the program has begun assisting homeowners and tenants in San Jose and Sunnyvale who are impacted by the mortgage meltdown. Through this program, HUD-approved housing counselors will meet with homeowners to help them understand what their options are if they are struggling to pay their mortgage. For tenants who are in homes that have been foreclosed on, we can help them to understand their rights and options if there is a new landlord, if they want to move, or if they are being asked to vacate or are facing eviction. We can also provide tenants additional referrals for tenant-focused programs.
One of the biggest strengths of the ForeclosureHelpSCC program is that it is a consortium effort. Our four housing counseling agencies include Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, Project Sentinel, and SurePath Financial Solutions. The support specialists who assist with the day-to-day operations of the program are trained volunteers from the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, some of whom have been volunteering since the inception of the program in May 2009. Legal referrals are handled through the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley. Of course, none of these services would be possible without the financial support from the cities of San Jose and Sunnyvale. This diverse base of partners is not only essential for running the program, but it also means that we are also able to reach a larger number of people that could benefit from the services of the ForeclosureHelpSCC program.
What does the Future Hold?
The program has been open for three weeks, and we are already receiving phone calls and meeting with homeowners who want to learn about their options. Beyond word-of-mouth referrals, we also will be marketing the program widely, and this will include letting homeowners know about new programs and resources through this blog. In the coming months, we will be writing about a variety of topics related to the program, including tips for working with your bank or servicer, budgeting strategies, new programs like Keep Your Home California, and new legislation like the California homeowner’s Bill of Rights.
Independent Foreclosure Review
For our first post, we’d like to highlight the Independent Foreclosure Review, which is especially timely because the deadline to apply for a review was just extended to December 2012. The Independent Foreclosure Review was included in a settlement between federal regulators and 14 banks for the way they processed modifications and foreclosures in 2009 and 2010.
If a homeowner was in any sort of “foreclosure action” between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, and they feel it was improperly processed, then they may want to learn more and consider applying. A foreclosure action does not necessarily mean the house was sold, the homeowner could still be in the home.
A foreclosure action includes:
- the home being sold through a foreclosure judgement,
- the loan went into the foreclosure process but the homeowner brought the mortgage current or entered a payment or modification plan,
- the home was in foreclosure and the home was sold, the borrower participated in short-sale, or gave the home back to the bank via a deed-in-lieu, or
- the mortgage was in foreclosure, the mortgage is still behind, but a sale has not yet taken place.
It also has to be the primary residence, and it only applies to the 14 banks/servicers included in the agreement. There is more information about eligibility on the Independent Foreclosure Review website.
If you know of any homeowners who are potentially eligible, please encourage them to contact us with questions. If a review finds their modification or foreclosure was improperly processed, depending on the situation, the homeowner could receive financial payments, ranging from $1,000 to up to $125,000 plus equity that was lost in the foreclosure. For more information on the financial penalties, view this chart: Financial Penalties. Thus far, the number of eligible people who have applied for a modification is far below the projections (See this June GAO report for more information), so it is important to get the word out before the deadline passes in December.
Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org
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