On Friday, the Administration kicked off a nationwide tour to promote its Making Home Affordable program. A critical component of the Administration’s larger Financial Stability Plan, the Making Home Affordable plan seeks to stabilize the housing market by helping Americans reduce their monthly mortgage payments to affordable amounts. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have offered two new initiatives, in conjunction with the Administration’s plan, in which homeowners will be allowed to refinance their home or modify their mortgage to make their monthly payments more manageable.
At Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, representatives from the departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, non-profit community housing organizations, and elected officials participated in a press conference to raise awareness of the issue. Additionally, community groups that assist people facing foreclosure were invited to participate in a "Train the Trainers" forum. The purpose of the event was to educate a network of organizations that help real people facing foreclosures.
In addition to Friday’s press conference and training forum, HUD and Treasury are jointly sponsoring a Foreclosure Prevention Workshop (pdf) on June 30 for homeowners who have defaulted on their mortgage or are facing imminent default. Tuesday’s workshop provides them the opportunity to connect with representatives from various lenders, servicing partners and HUD-certified housing counselors. Since the launch of the Making Home Affordable plan and other foreclosure prevention workshops, more than 50,000 homeowners have been offered lower-cost mortgages. Unfortunately, there are still millions of Americans who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure and are not aware of available resources and services. According to a recent study, 20.4 million American homeowners owe more to their banks than their homes are worth. Furthermore, more than 6 in 10 homeowners who are delinquent in their mortgage payments are not aware of services that mortgage lenders offer to individuals having trouble with their mortgage.
The Making Home Affordable plan helps these people access the appropriate services and programs so that they can keep up with their mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure. The Office of Public Engagement is tasked with ensuring that these services and programs reach their intended communities. Miami is the first stop on a nationwide tour of cities that have suffered the most from the current housing market and economy. By casting the widest net and publicizing these trainings and forums in as many ways as possible, we hope to foster the growth of a nationwide grassroots effort to curb unnecessary mortgage problems and foreclosures, subsequently bringing relief to America's housing market and homeowners.
Stephanie Valencia is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.