Aroostook County Housing Counselor Added to Program
AUGUSTA, ME – March 18, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — The Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection signed a contract this month with Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP), increasing the number of housing counselors serving Maine homeowners. This contract adds another certified housing counseling service to the seven non-profit agencies currently under contract around the State.
“Each well-trained housing counselor can assist up to 125 homeowners annually in working to prevent foreclosure,” commented Will Lund, Superintendent of the Bureau. “We know there is need across the State, since about 12,000 Mainers are currently in default on their mortgages.” “We are especially pleased to make this connection with The County,” Superintendent Lund said. “We believe every homeowner who needs help should be able to talk with someone local, someone who knows the special challenges in each region of the State.”
Jim Baillargeon, Senior Manager of ACAP’s Energy & Housing division, said, “ACAP is pleased to be able to offer County residents this service by having available a local contact who understands the economy of northern Maine and who can relay to the mortgage lenders the needs and concerns of the borrowers.” He said ACAP counselors can assist clients with foreclosure prevention options that best meet their needs.
Like all referrals offered through the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, ACAP will not charge fees for this service. “We want to encourage financially troubled homeowners to contact us early to improve their choices of available remediation options,” said Baillargeon. “Homeowners will have a better chance at keeping their homes if they work with an approved HUD counselor.
To talk with a homeowner foreclosure counselor, call ACAP at 768-3023 or 1-800-432-7881 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday,” he added. The Bureau previously signed contracts with seven other non-profit agencies: York County Community Action Corp.; Coastal Enterprises, Inc.; Community Concepts; Penquis; Kennebec Valley Community Action; Sustainable Economic Solutions; and Pine Tree Legal Assistance. These contracts provide counselors to whom the Bureau can confidently refer homeowners. Those counselors are trained to gather financial information; negotiate with mortgage lenders, servicers and foreclosure attorneys; and develop payment deferral plans, loan modifications, loan restructurings or other remedies. The contracts signed to date have resulted in the hiring or retention of ten counselors.
Lund said his agency hopes to enter into an agreement with Washington/Hancock County Community Action within a week, which will result in a network of counselors covering most areas of Maine.
Funding for the program comes from an assessment on lenders at foreclosure auctions. The effort to assist homeowners was the result of legislation that took effect in September, 2009.
“Many foreclosure relief programs are now offered by the federal government or through large mortgage investors,” said Lund. “However, the programs are complex, and involve assembling many financial documents and negotiating with lenders. Trained counselors will be able to assist homeowners through the maze of red tape in order for the consumers to achieve loan modifications.”
The Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection was established in 1975 to enforce a variety of credit-related consumer laws. Part of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, the Bureau licenses lenders, creditors and collectors; conducts periodic examinations of creditors to determine compliance with state laws; and responds to consumer complaints and inquiries. The Office also conducts educational seminars and provides speakers to advise consumers and creditors of their legal rights and responsibilities. Free foreclosure assistance for consumers can be obtained by calling the Bureau’s toll-free hotline, 1-888-NO-4-CLŌZ.
Consumers-only toll-free: 1-800-DEBT-LAW (1-800-332-8529)