Need help reducing your mortgage payments? Been trying to get approved for a Making Home Affordable loan modification or refinance without success? Help could be coming to a town near you.

A series of homeowner assistance workshops around the country are planned as part of a national tour designed to boost the Making Home Affordable Program, the Obama Administration's major initiative to help homeowners reduce their mortgage payments. Following a kickoff in Miami last weekend, the tour is also scheduled for stops in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Boston, and several other communities, with the possibility of additional stops being added as well.

"More than 50 percent of all foreclosures occur without servicers and borrowers ever connecting," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "With this targeted campaign, we can reach in to the communities most in need, bolster awareness of this program and help responsible homeowners take the first step toward getting relief - all steps that will in turn help to stabilize the housing market and get our economy on the path to recovery."


Will include outreach for at-risk homeowners

Stops on the campaign will also include seminars to provide training for local housing counselors to help them advise clients on qualifying for Making Home Affordable loan modifications and refinancing, as well as to build awareness of the program. Door-to-door campaigns to reach at-risk homeowners are planned as well.

"Leveraging local housing partners on the ground is a key component in making the Making Home Affordable Program a success," said Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan. "Engaging community groups that are on the front line with at-risk borrowers will help broaden our outreach efforts and keep more people in their homes."

The Making Home Affordable Program offers homeowners two options for reducing their mortgage payments: refinancing their mortgage, which allows homeowners with good credit to replace their existing high-interest mortgage with a one that has lower payments and extended payment terms; and a loan modification, which enables homeowners to temporarily or permanently reduce monthly payments on their current mortgage.

Both are optional programs offered through mortgage lenders and servicers. The upcoming tour is designed to help guide homeowners through the process of applying for and obtaining a loan modification or refinance.


Numerous foreclosure avoidance workshops scheduled

Foreclosure prevention and mortgage assistance workshops of the type that will accompany the tour have become more common as the housing crisis has worsened and more homeowners face the risk of foreclosure. Many are conducted by local HUD-endorsed housing agencies, state agencies and elected representatives, often with participation by lenders that enables homeowners to work out their mortgage problems on-site.

Upcoming dates and new additions to the Making Home Affordable tour will be posted on the program's website. The government-backed megalender Freddie Mac also maintains a list of various upcoming mortgage assistance and foreclosure avoidance workshops around the country.

Published on June 30, 2009