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The Basics

Where strapped homeowners can find help

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By MSN Money staff

Homeowner Crisis Resource Center: The Homeowner Crisis Resource Center, run by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, can help borrowers get in touch with certified housing counselors. The toll-free number is 1-866-557-2227.

You can also ask foundation counselors questions about credit here.

FHASecure:Launched in August 2007, the FHASecure programis aimed at helping homeowners refinance certain adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs. Unlike the rules for traditional mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration, the program allows even delinquent borrowers to refinance if their delinquency results from an ARM resetting to a higher rate.

This program applies only to owner-occupied homes (no investors) with existing non-FHA ARMs that have reset since June 2005 or will by December 2009. The program is available to homeowners with mortgages under a certain dollar amount, which varies by region (for instance, the temporary limit is $729,750 for high-cost areas).

Hope Now:The federal Hope Nowalliance represents 11 lenders servicing more than four out of five subprime loans. A significant part of the Hope Now effort is aimed at modifying loans by freezing interest rates at their current levels.

The plan was announced in December and is a voluntary effort by the private sector to address the national foreclosure problem. However, it targets a limited number of troubled homeowners.

To be eligible, homeowners must have had good payment histories, taken out their loans between January 2005 and July 2006, face loan resets that result in a payment increase of 10% or more and had a loan-to-value ratio of more than 97%. The program uses a direct-mail campaign to contact at-risk homeowners and encourage them to call the Homeownership Preservation Foundation's national hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE.

Center for Responsible Lending:The Center for Responsible Lendingis a unit of the Center for Community Self-Help, based in Durham, N.C. Recognizing that lack of legal representation is an obstacle for families facing foreclosure, the responsible-lending center created the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance, a project managed by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, which funds organizations that provide legal representation to families facing foreclosure due to subprime lending.

National Consumer Law Center: The National Consumer Law Centerhelps consumers, their advocates and policymakers to use consumer laws to build financial security and promote marketplace justice for vulnerable individuals and families. The center presents information about mortgage servicing and foreclosure prevention, offering a book and CD-ROM about foreclosure prevention.

Homeownership Preservation Foundation: The Homeownership Preservation Foundationcreates partnerships with local governments, nonprofit organizations, borrowers and lenders to help families overcome obstacles that could result in the loss of their homes. It offers 1-888-995-HOPE, a national homeowner assistance hotline, to help individuals and families avoid foreclosure.

Foreclosure laws by state: A chart comparesforeclosure timelines for all 50 states.

State-by-state resources

Arizona

California

Colorado

Delaware

Florida

Indiana

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Nevada

New Jersey

New York

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

Community resources

NeighborWorks America: NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit, works to revitalize communities through affordable-housing opportunities, training and technical assistance. It has created the Center for Foreclosure Solutions, which works to reduce the rate of foreclosures and the negative impact of foreclosures on borrowers and communities.

The center convenes stakeholders and supports a coordinated foreclosure prevention and intervention strategy in communities nationwide. It provides tips for avoiding foreclosure, background information, counseling training courses and a database of other resources. Congress has charged NeighborWorks America with administering a $180 million national foreclosure-mitigation counseling program.

The Reinvestment Fund: The Reinvestment Fundis a national leader in the financing of neighborhood revitalization, with efforts focused across the mid-Atlantic region. The fund's recent work includes studies on foreclosure filings in Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve: The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserveoversees state-chartered banks and trust companies that belong to the Federal Reserve System. The board provides educational information and offers a list of resources and referral agencies to help consumers avoid foreclosure and to assist borrowers who have already entered the foreclosure process.

Published April 24, 2008

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