Workshop aims to help homeowners

July 24, 2009 2:52:34 PM PDT
Hundreds of Chicagoans came to McCormick place hoping to avoid foreclosure, Friday, as they battle to keep their homes. They attended a housing workshop sponsored by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). The Boston-based organization claims to have helped thousands of homeowners restructure their mortgages to make them more affordable.

Some camped over night, some left with tears of joy, others with tears of anguish.

This convention attempts to resolve mortgage cases that would take months in one day. It is called the Save the Dream Tour.

"I'm hoping the mortgage is will be cut down at least 300 bucks. That would really help a lot," homeowner Deondre Fuller said.

"With him losing his job after 23 years, and then the company I was working for they closed their doors, nothing is for sure. I want to at least be able to keep the roof over our head," homeowner Carol Bavone said.

Hundreds of counselors with NACA review documents and budgets with homeowners. The homeowners then negotiate with their lender with NACA's help.

NACA has contracts with over a dozen banks to modify loans.

The Gomez's of Elgin were in foreclosure after Lucy was laid off last year and tried on their own to modify their loan.

With the advocacy of NACA, Friday their mortgage went from $2400 a month to $1100 in a 30 year fixed mortgage.

"That means a lot to me, it means a lot. That means a load lifted off finally," Pedro Gomez said.

"I was in tears. It's a blessing we're not going be out of our home and finally we get to stay with our home," Lucy Gomez said.

NACA says 80 percent of their clients get loan modifications, but some don't get help because their lender does not participate.

One woman, who did not want to use her name, has a home daycare in north Kenwood. Friday, she was told that her loan couldn't be modified because her bank was not participating.

"They need to start listening to some of their customers we are their business and if they don't have us then they don't have a business i want them to stop ignoring our needs," she said.

NACA's CEO and founder said they will take homeowners to the homes of bank executives that are not working with homeowners.

"We're going bring the homeowners to his home and say, 'I want you to meet the homeowners who you're foreclosing on,' because it's not good enough that we can get only 80 percent of the homeowners through. It's got to be close to 100 percent," Bruce Marks said.

The woman quoted above has her mortgage with Harris Bank.

NACA's CEO says that Harris Bank is among the banks not participating, and a spokesman for Cook County says the county will begin the process to divest funds from Harris Bank unless the bank participates in the convention.

However, Harris Bank says they were not invited to the convention and are proud of the work they are doing for their customers.

Save the Dream Tour

McCormick Place
Friday: 9am - 8pm
Saturday: 9am - 8pm
Sunday: 9am - 8pm
Monday: 9am - 5pm

Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America: www.naca.com


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