By Fatima Adame –
Your Home Your Rights, a public forum on home ownership and renters’ rights was held on Saturday, October 25, 2010 at the office’s of the Neighborhood Housing Service of the Inland Empire, Inc.
With an unemployment rate of over 14% and a high foreclosure rate in the county, homeowners and renters flocked to this much-needed event.
Attendees showed frustration and spoke of the lack of empathy showed to them by the banks when they attempted to refinance or renegotiate their loans. Chris Sorenson from the HAMP & HAFA Programs spoke of the banks purpose of “making money” and the conflict that creates for a homeowner facing “hard times” and needing help to stay in their home. HUD speaker David Quezada said, “the folks who came are the ones who will survive because they are determined. You worry about all the ones who did not come and do not know about these services.”
Glenda Murphys a homeowner in search of assistance, spoke of having attended a similar event at the Los Angeles Convention Center recently and waiting in line for two days hoping to get help save her home, only to be turned away from her bank with no help. Tears streamed down her face as she spoke of having had her hours cut at work and having a disabled son who is scheduled for another surgery in the next few weeks.
Another attendee showed up with a twelve-inch stack of documents waiving it at the panelists saying that he had done everything they were advising and still he was being tossed around by the banks. He spoke of trying to refinance his home for over a year and finally in July, the bank showed him some relief and his payment was lowered. A few weeks ago, he received a letter from the same bank notifying him that they had made would increase. Unable to pay the increase the bank was asking for he came to the event in search of assistance in keeping his home.
The event was part of a series of forums taking place all over the state to ensure that people needing assistance know about the resources in their region provided by the state and federal government at no charge. Executive Director of New America Media and cosponsor of the event said, “Media have a huge responsibility here to help housing counseling agencies like NHSIE reach distressed homeowners.
Without our outreach, many of these agencies can't provide excellent counseling to the people in greatest need.”
The message that most resonated with all those who attended was the understanding that homeowners should not pay for this type of help. HUD representative Jerry Cullinen emphasized the need to work solely with HUD approved agencies to insure that people needing help are not scammed.
“The rules favor the banks,” said David Quezada and if homeowners want to work with the banks then they must be sure that they are working with government agencies that know the rules.
Free services offered that day included confidential one-on-one legal advice, counseling on foreclosure, fair housing and predatory lending issues.
Speakers from Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA) were all on hand to offer information and advice to attendees.
“SOS: Sustaining our Society”, is a PBS special that will be airing early next year and the filmmakers, Executive Producer and San Bernardino resident Imran Farooq where all on hand to interview homeowners about their experiences navigating through the bank and government systems when dealing with the loss and potential loss of their homes. The special is expected to air on KVCR-TV (Channel 24) in February.
For more information on how you can get help with your foreclosure prevention or first time buyers contact NHSIE at 909-884-6891 or to find another HUD approved housing counselor near you call 1-800-CALL-FHA (1-800-225-5342).
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