Subprime servicer Ocwen Financial Corp. recently convened more than 30 representatives of grassroots and national housing advocacy organizations to share insights related to preventing foreclosures.
The roundtable discussion was geared, in part, to provide additional context for an expected report by a Congressional Oversight Panel on the effectiveness of foreclosure mitigation efforts.
During the roundtable, which included remarks from human rights activist and author Kerry Kennedy, the community groups and Ocwen representatives agreed upon a number of imperatives and recommendations.
Several of the recommendations related to the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), whose guidelines, the groups said, should be made more flexible in order to increase the number of eligible borrowers. The groups also suggested the development of a national awareness and information campaign regarding HAMP, the goal of which would be to increase borrower outreach efforts.
"One thing that we agreed should be done immediately is to step up the community outreach and awareness efforts around the government's HAMP loan modification initiative – a national campaign is needed to bring more qualified homeowners in distress into this program,’ says Ricardo Byrd, executive director of the National Association of Neighborhoods, one of the groups represented at the meeting.
The roundtable also concluded that more attention must be paid to homeowners who are under-employed or unemployed and, thus, need state or federal assistance to qualify for mortgage modifications.
Ocwen and the groups, which included Neighborworks America, National Urban League of D.C. and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago Inc., said servicers and grassroots groups should collaborate to become more proactive, reaching borrowers before they face foreclosure.
‘We've always been grateful for grassroots and housing advocacy groups' commitment to helping individuals stay in their homes," says Paul A. Koches, Ocwen's executive vice president. "It's really a powerful thing when the objectives of the nonprofit organizations align with ours, as we all work hard to help troubled homeowners, often through mortgage modifications."
The groups also called for increasing government allocations for community organizations' engagement in housing and financial counseling with homeowners and for streamlining the procedures for reimbursement for the effort.
SOURCE: Ocwen Financial Corp.