WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Capital Area Foreclosure Network (CAFN) today announced the launch of a new foreclosure prevention text messaging service. The service will provide those in or worried about foreclosure with access to advice, reminders, and alerts through their mobile phones in either Spanish or English. The goals of the campaign are to increase the number of homeowners and renters that get help from a nonprofit housing counselor, and decrease the number of people who drop out of counseling.
Parties can opt-in to the service by using their mobile device to text HOME or CASA to 877-877, and will then immediately receive critical information and a hotline number to use when they are ready to connect to a counselor at a HUD approved counseling organization. After that, subscribers will receive periodic reminders, information about foreclosure prevention programs available in their jurisdiction, such as the new mediation programs in D.C. and Maryland, follow-up instructions, alerts to scams, financial literacy tips, and much more.
“We wanted to try a new way of getting our message across,” said Peggy Sand, Director of the regional coalition. “Mobile phones are the most effective, easy and affordable way to connect with struggling residents.”
Data from March 2011 shows that more than 9 percent of all loans (approximately 115,000 mortgages) in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area were in foreclosure or delinquent. Prince George’s County has been hit particularly hard by the crisis; approximately 5 percent of mortgages were in foreclosure and 15 percent were delinquent in the County as of March 2011. Studies show that homeowners that seek help from a certified nonprofit counselor have a better chance of avoiding foreclosure than homeowners who work alone.
“So many individuals who have lost their homes have fallen victim twice: first to predatory lenders and then to foreclosure rescue scam artists who promise they can save people’s homes, charge thousands of dollars, and do nothing to help” said Chuck Bean of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, who co-leads CAFN.
CAFN believes that adding a mobile-based initiative will provide wider access for home foreclosure victims in the National Capital Region. The success of other mobile campaigns, like those responding to the earthquakes in Haiti and Text4baby, has been inspirational for many nonprofits. Moreover, according to a May 2010 Pew Report, 87% of Hispanic households have multiple mobile phones and use them more than any other personal or handheld technology. Thanks to a recent grant from Freddie Mac, CAFN can now connect with this audience in a familiar medium.
CAFN has designed the text messaging campaign to complement its other outreach initiatives, including a newly-redesigned interactive website (www.cafn.org) and a regional Spanish and English hotline (888-794-8830). Text messages will encourage users to contact the hotline so they can be referred to a nonprofit housing counselor, and will direct users to the website for additional information and resources on the foreclosure process.
Peggy Sand, firstname.lastname@example.org / 202-390-9709
Steven Kania, email@example.com / 202-962-3249