Regional Partnership Formed to Help Housing Counseling Agencies Address Foreclosure Crisis

Apr 14, 2010

Washington, D.C. - The Capital Area Foreclosure Network (CAFN), a new regional partnership led by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), and the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, today announced a major effort to coordinate regional foreclosure prevention efforts and build the capacity of housing counseling agencies to address the region’s foreclosure crisis.  With financial and programmatic support from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and leadership from grassroots nonprofit organizations and local governments, CAFN will offer training and fundraising support to counseling agencies around the region.

The Network, which announced its plans at the monthly meeting of the COG Board, also released preliminary data from the Urban Institute showing the region has an overall foreclosure rate of 2.9 percent, with local rates ranging from less than 1 percent in Arlington County to 6 percent in Prince George’s County.  The data also show that 9.5 percent of all the region’s mortgages are 30-days or more delinquent and that subprime loans are responsible for about half of all foreclosures.

According to preliminary results of a survey of local housing counseling agencies commissioned by CAFN and conducted by the Urban Institute, the organizations served an average of 423 clients last year.  Nearly all respondents (94%) said a lack of funding prevents them from increasing their foreclosure prevention capacity to meet the demand for their services.

Marian Siegel, Executive Director of Housing Counseling Services, a nonprofit organization  in the District of Columbia, said the hope is that the CAFN program will give her housing counselors new and better tools to respond to each household’s needs. “We can’t really blame the federal programs that are out there, but the fact is that because of this long recession, so many of our clients have had such a significant reduction in their household incomes, the math still doesn’t work to help them stay in their homes.”

“Freddie Mac is pleased to partner with the local nonprofit community to build a strong foreclosure prevention network,” said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Freddie Mac’s executive vice president of Community Relations.  “Through efforts like our recent housing counselor training, the Network will help nonprofits leverage resources and information to best serve struggling borrowers.”

CAFN leaders plan additional events to inform and train housing groups and officials. Chuck Bean, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, said “By working together we – nonprofits, governments, banks, and others – can solve problems that none of us can solve alone.  CAFN is going to be a benefit to on-the-ground providers and to the people who need their help.”

The group will host a “Webinar” on Thursday, April 15 from 10:00 – 11:00 am when they will release more detailed data on foreclosures in the region and provide additional information about CAFN’s mission and services. Those interested may register at https://www2gotomeeting.com/register/358890722.

On May 6, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Fannie Mae and CAFN will co-host a training on new federal protections for renters during foreclosure proceedings, as well as existing state and local protections. Property managers, loan servicers, lawyers, local government representatives and nonprofit representatives are encouraged to attend.  Registration information can be found on the COG web site, www.mwcog.org.

Myriam Torrico, administrator for Hispanic Affairs with the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs, urged local elected officials to get actively involved in the CAFN effort.  “I believe that local government has a special role to play in foreclosures because of the credibility its participation brings,” she said.  “With the multitude of voices, messages and players claiming to have the answer for struggling homeowners, local elected officials can use the trust that their constituents have in them to urge homeowners to get help from NONPROFIT housing counselors.”

 
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