From my desk, I can hear foreclosure counseling clients enter the office. They say to Paul, who sits at the front desk, “I’m here for an appointment?” In their voices, I hear fear, uncertainty, sometimes embarrassment.
An hour later, one of our counselors walks with them back to the front door. Invariably, I hear the client say, “thank you.” In their voices, I hear relief, resolve. The goodbye contains a plan: Send those papers back as soon as you can. Or, I’ll call you when I hear something. They are still worried, but they know what needs to be done next, and they’re on their way to do it.
And they do it. Last year, PRG helped avert 135 foreclosures this way. There’s a great financial benefit to that. When a family can sustainably avoid foreclosure, they safeguard their long-term stability and prosperity. And each time a foreclosure is prevented, the community and government save an estimated $78,000 in lost property value and other local government expenses. Beyond the dollars, there’s the relief I hear in those voices. Families do not have to go through the stress of mortgage worries on their own; there are people here who understand and can help figure out what to do.
This is a crucial program for families and neighborhoods, and much of the financial support for it was eliminated in the recent federal budget negotiations. See the press release below from the Home Ownership Center of Minnesota, and watch this space for info on how to help ensure continued funding.
HOME OWNERSHIP COUNSELING VICTIM OF FEDERAL CUTS
Counseling to Prevent Foreclosure, Educate First-Time Homebuyers and Prevent Reverse Mortgage Scams Impacted
St. Paul, Minn. (April 12, 2011) – Federal funding for Minnesota’s housing counseling services was eliminated in last weekend’s federal budget negotiations. The cuts are set to take effect on October 1, 2011. The cuts will impact Minnesota’s network of more than 50 nonprofit and local government agencies that offer free counseling to prevent foreclosures, support first-time homebuyer education and protect reverse mortgage counseling services.
The funding, provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has been pivotal to offering free counseling services, particularly since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007. Housing leaders continue to assess the impacts of these cuts on their ability to provide services.
“Counselors statewide have played a pivotal role in keeping more families in their homes and providing our next generation of homebuyers the unbiased information they need to make smart homeownership decisions,” said Julie Gugin, executive director of the Minnesota Home Ownership Center. “Minnesota’s housing market is just beginning to recover from the foreclosure crisis that jump-started this economic downturn, and these funding cuts will hamper counselors’ ability to help the state’s homeowners get back on their feet.
Since the start of the foreclosure crisis, Minnesota counselors have helped prevent more than 30,000 foreclosures across the state. According to an analysis by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, each foreclosure costs taxpayers $78,000 when accounting for the total cost in lost property value, policing foreclosed properties and other local government expenses.
“Minnesota experienced close to 26,000 foreclosures last year – only slightly less than our peak number of foreclosures in 2008,” added Gugin. “These cuts will be devastating to our counselors’ ability to continue helping to prevent foreclosures and bring educated first-time homebuyers back into the housing market.”