Programs have Millions to Help People Facing Foreclosure
The number of homeowners facing foreclosure in Washington, and nationwide, is much lower than it has been in the past six years, but thousands of people still have underwater mortgages (meaning they owe more on their homes then they are worth) or they are behind on payments and face foreclosure. You may know someone in this predicament, or face foreclosure yourself.
Thankfully, the state received $43.8 million of the $25 billion national settlement with the five big bank chains to help these homeowners. In my last post, I provided some background on the Legal Foundation of Washington (LFW), of which I am serving as the vice president this year.
The LFW is an organization that supports legal non-profits in Washington. It was awarded $13 million for the LFW Home Justice Project, which will be granted to community-level programs to help an anticipated 30,000 low and moderate income homeowners in Washington who lost their homes to foreclosure, face foreclosure or will in the coming years. An estimated 135,000 homeowners in our state lost their residences to foreclosure since the housing crisis began in 2008.
The Home Foreclosure Project in Vancouver and statewide
If you need help saving your home, understanding legal paperwork, getting re-established or you need housing counseling, you can start by calling the Housing Counselor Hotline at 877-894-4663. You or other Washington homeowners may also call the Northwest Justice Project’s foreclosure hotline at 800-606-4819. You may not know exactly what kind of help you need right now, what is available or how to get started. You can get more information in the links at the bottom of this press release or call one of the numbers above.
Here in Vancouver, the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program (CCVLP) will provide an attorney for low and moderate-income homeowners in needed of help. The CCVLP was one of the many local non-profits to receive money from the settlement for a local Home Foreclosure Project. If eligible, you will meet with an attorney, free of charge, who will help you choose your best option. The attorney may request mediation with your lender, which will suspend your foreclosure during the mediation. The CCVLP also has compiled the forms and worksheets you will need for the process as well as information about your rights and options.
The state attorney general’s office has also put together these resources to help you. Some homeowners have told me that it is difficult to overcome the embarrassment, disappointment or even shame of facing foreclosure. You are not facing this alone – nor should you. More than four million homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure in the past five years. This figure does not include the homeowners who sold their houses for a loss through a short sale or returned their homes to the bank through a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure.
If You Face Foreclosure Rights, You aren’t Alone
Until this year, Mortgage Debt Relief Act discharged the debt of a home lost to foreclosure, returned to the bank or sold for less that it is worth. That act expired at the end of 2013, so it is important to have legal help even if you cannot save your home. Without the proper paperwork, the bank who owns your home may also try to recover the difference between what you owe on the mortgage and what you sell your home for if it is a short sale. Please allow one of the state agencies nearest you to help you through this difficult and heart-breaking process.
As I said in my last post, the main reason I volunteer my time and serve as an officer for the LFW is because this is the way I can help the most people with my limited resources. To learn more about the organization and the programs we fund, please visit LFW website.