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Regional Spotlight: RISMEDIA, March 26, 2011—Recently Fannie Mae and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) celebrated the one-year anniversary of Fannie Mae’s South Florida Mortgage Help Center. Since opening its doors in March 2010, the South Florida Mortgage Help Center has reached out to more than 5,000 South Floridians and worked with more than 1,000 struggling families with loans owned by Fannie Mae. The South Florida Mortgage Help Center was the first of six Help Centers that Fannie Mae opened in hard-hit cities across the country. Additional Help Centers are expected to open this year.

Over the last year, families have met one-on-one with highly trained mortgage specialists at the Help Center to discuss their mortgage situation. These experienced housing advisors, who speak English, Spanish and Creole, guide customers through the broad range of foreclosure prevention options available to them and work closely with mortgage servicers to ensure an efficient response time.

“Our top priority is to ensure that struggling homeowners have access to the help they need. More than 60 percent of customers who have worked with our advisors at the South Florida Mortgage Help Center have been able to remain in their homes and avoid foreclosure,” says Jeff Hayward, Senior Vice President, National Servicing Organization, Fannie Mae. “The Mortgage Help Centers are an essential component of our goal to bring stability to the housing market and minimize the negative impact foreclosure has on families and communities.”

Since its opening, the Help Center staff and partners have worked with more than 1,000 customers to discuss their mortgage situation and the options available to them, and guide them through the process until they achieve an outcome. Of the 1,000 customers, more than 64 percent received a retention solution that allowed them to remain in their homes. Retention solutions include modifications, forbearances and repayment plans. On average, the Help Center staff is able to process the mortgage and communicate an outcome to a customer in 30 days.

“The services offered by the Mortgage Help Center staff have provided South Florida residents with the tools they need to avoid foreclosure,” says Arden Shank, president and CEO of NHSSF. “The Center provides a personal experience that our residents truly value and we are excited to celebrate this important milestone in the Center’s history.”

“I fell behind on my mortgage last year after my salary was reduced just as I began repaying my student loans,” says Diana Dolphin, a customer of the South Florida Mortgage Help Center. “As a single mother, I was terrified of losing my home. The Help Center staff worked with me to find an affordable solution for my family, and thanks to their help, we are able to stay in our home. I hope that other struggling homeowners reach out to the Help Center so that they too can work with people they trust to help them avoid foreclosure.”

Services available at the Center include reviewing mortgage loans with families who are behind on their mortgage or may be at-risk of foreclosure, discussing loan modification and other alternatives to foreclosure, processing their documentation and making timely decisions on any pending loan workout efforts.

The Help Center staff also work to counteract fraudulent groups charging fees for modifications and foreclosure prevention services, and other mortgage-related scams.

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