Habitat For Humanity Saves Homeowners From Foreclosure 77% Of The Time

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Carlene Coleman, Mortgage Foreclosure Mgr, TC Habitat for Humanity

Much has been written recently about the plight of homeowners losing their home to foreclosure. We’ve reported extensively on how Occupy Homes Minnesota is trying to help people fight the banks when their home has been foreclosed. But it is very difficult to help homeowners after a foreclosure or after the sheriff’s sale.

Getting help before foreclosure can make a big difference. Habitat for Humanity provides a foreclosure service if contacted early in the process offers significant hope for home recovery. According to Carlene Coleman, Mortgage Foreclosure Manager for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, the mortgage group handled 406 cases last year with a 77% success rate in preventing foreclosure. They have dealt with owners at all stages of the foreclosure process.

There are actions to be taken after a sheriff’s sale including arranging a rental agreement with the new owner while trying to rebuild credit, but early action if possible is the best choice.

Home builder is also home saver.
Habitat for Humanity is best known for home construction, it built 60 homes in the Twin Cities last year, but is also one of three such groups in the nation that provides mortgage foreclosure counseling, it has done so since 1993. The serious emotional and financial cost of home foreclosure is seen every day in the Twin Cities. This is a resource that in many cases can prevent the foreclosure. Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976. Former President Jimmy Carter joined the effort in 1984 and has been identified with the project since then.

Minnesota law requires that any financial institution that forecloses on a home has to notify the lender that they have a right use one of the HUD certified non-profit counseling agencies to assist them. The notification from the mortgage holder is sent to the the Minnesota Home Ownership Center which then divides the notices among the approximately 30 agencies providing foreclosure services. The Habitat for Humanity’s center deals with people across the time spectrum of the foreclosure process. They can be most effective early in the process when more options are available. In addition to the mandated referrals from the Minnesota Home Ownership Center, homeowners are referred by previous clients and from other service agencies.

Coleman said, “In the past a lot of the cases we encountered were definitely cases of clear fraud, or opportunistic mortgages where there were fees and different terms which were not in the best interests of the homeowner, but some would call them criminal. That was mostly prior to 2007 – 2008.”

In early stages help is in the form of budgeting counseling, job searches and direction to other agencies. After the sheriff’s sale the focus is on rebuilding credit as quickly and solidly as possible. In the emotional tumult following a sheriff’s sale the homeowner may not see the daylight an improved credit rating can bring.

Habitat for Humanity Foreclosure Center Services:

The office is located in the Minneapolis Urban League Building, 2100 Plymouth Ave. N, 55411. 612-331-4090.

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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