Loan Modification Companies vs The Fair Housing Authority

by Stacey Doyle on 2009-10-125

This is a follow up post by one of our guest writers about her experiences with dealing with loan modification companies, debt settlement companies and other debt management programs. Stacey talks about her plans to get her mortgage situation sorted. I thank her for sharing her story here!

In my post detailing how I’m trying to save my home and trying to get my loan payments back on track with a mortgage loan modification, I mentioned that I was done dealing directly with my lender. Since November 2008, I’ve been trying to get a loan modification but have felt that I had not made sufficient progress to continue alone. I checked out online resources such as Home Foreclosure Fighter to help me find direction. After filling out an online form, I waited to be contacted by folks who might be able to help.

What I Learned About Loan Modification Companies

Much like debt consolidation agencies, loan modification specialists don’t work for free. I was contacted by mortgage lenders, debt companies and attorneys. All the professionals who contacted me through Home Foreclosure Fighter had one thing in common — they charged some type of fee. Unfortunately, I’m already behind on my mortgage payments and don’t have the money to spend on a speculative venture. Loan modification requires negotiations, which are unpredictable, and clearly, there are no guarantees.

loan modification companies, fair housing authority

I toyed with the idea of hiring an attorney since I was already behind on my mortgage payments. I spoke to one who seemed ready to take on my case, once I paid a retainer. He seemed competent enough and had the credentials; I felt that Home Foreclosure Fighter provided me with sufficient qualified resources to consider and didn’t connect me with any disreputable parties. However, I was still reluctant to pay any fees for assistance and so I decided not to pursue this avenue for now.

Dealing With The Fair Housing Authority

I went ahead and looked into other options I had that did not require me to put up money. I decided to contact Catholic Charities, an organization helping needy people from all backgrounds and religions. They referred me to the Fair Housing Authority and United Way. Both organizations are around to assist certain needy families and individuals based on their circumstances.

My husband is a disabled veteran so we qualified for their free assistance programs. While they could not provide any guarantees about the outcome of the loan modification process, I was happy that I wasn’t spending hundreds of extra dollars that I didn’t have, for this help. These organizations assist minorities, seniors, veterans, disabled people and people facing serious illness or other similar circumstances. If, like me, you’re facing mortgage payment issues and would like to avoid foreclosure, do contact them to see if you qualify for help.

My Meeting With The Fair Housing Authority

We met with Fair Housing to find out our options. We had to sign authorizations to allow them to communicate with our mortgage bank and to share our income and current hardship circumstances. There are several ways we can approach the loan modification process as it unfolds over the next two or three months. After our meeting, we realized that the resolution would not happen overnight but we were relieved that it would actually happen!

I’ve always had a progressive career, but this was the first year that we found ourselves falling behind. So I’m grateful for the Fair Housing Authority for providing us with a wealth of resources. I was actually unaware of the many resources that could temporarily help us make ends meet: here are some helpful ideas I’ve picked up:

  • State programs offering assistance through the Department of Social Services for oil, electric and other utility bills that can total up to $2,500 worth of benefits. We’re working on this right now.
  • Free and reduced costs for school lunches. My children are now getting lunch for $.25 a day, which saves me at least $50 monthly.
  • Reduced cost health insurance programs offered by the state that could offset the expenses not covered by our veterans’ insurance, including dental and optical coverage. I am waiting for information about two programs to see what they are about.

Next Steps

Here’s what has happened since I’ve tried contacting my lender directly in the past year. I haven’t received any call from them, even though they’ve promised to contact me. I’ve sent them a letter indicating that I wanted to discuss how to get out of debt with a debt repayment plan and how I may qualify for a loan modification. Instead, I was denied a loan modification by certified mail. I also received a demand for thousands of dollars via registered mail from my lender; the demand pretty much told me to pay up or face foreclosure. Unfortunately, I have yet to reach anyone at Bank of America for a meaningful discussion about this: my last contact with them has been a year ago!

So here’s where I am now: the only thing I’ve received from my lender so far are a series of promises for call backs and letters of denial. This has frustrated me to the point that I’ve turned elsewhere for help. Right now, I’m hoping that the Fair Housing Authority can help me make better progress. I’ll let you know how it works out!

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Financial Samurai October 12, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Hey There! Good to hear the update, and the help the FHA is providing. Sounds like some good things will come out of it.

Do you mind me asking what the qualifications are for subsidized lunches, insurance, and general credit for expenses? Perhaps others might be interested in getting those things as well, so just wanted to know if there is an income limit or what not.

Gluck with your progress!

John DeFlumeri Jr October 13, 2009 at 1:50 am

Good work on this article. It takes some of the fear out of the getting help process.

John DeFlumeri Jr

Erica Douglass October 13, 2009 at 9:29 am

Hey Stacey,

Just read your comments on the other post. I recently had a blood test that diagnosed mono and I was having exhaustion issues…sleeping up to 15 hours a day…sound familiar? Anyway, I went outside the regular medical system to a nutritionist and she got me the right tests. Turns out I have Celiac disease. It wouldn’t surprise me if you have something similar…your symptoms sound nearly identical to mine. Have you tried getting the genetic test for Celiac or doing a 30-day GFCF challenge diet?

I remember what it was like to feel sick all the time. Now I am strictly gluten-free and I finally have energy to do all those projects I need to do. But I had to go outside regular doctors to find my diagnosis. I believe I would have been diagnosed with CFS had I stayed within the system; most doctors here in the U.S. don’t understand Celiac, its symptoms, and they use CFS as a “catch-all.”

Anyway, good luck with your health issues. Give this a shot…if it’s Celiac, it can be cured by diet alone, and you’ll start having more energy within a week or two of going GF or GFCF!!


Silicon Valley Blogger October 13, 2009 at 10:03 am

Hi Erica and Stacey,
Interesting story from Erica! We have a lot more in common actually. I have had health issues in the past and it was one of the reasons I quit the 9 to 5 to go into business for myself by trying to earn a living via blogging and internet projects. Needless to say, I had issues for 2.5 years and had autoimmunity type symptoms. Very hard to diagnose but ultimately, it was a form of thyroiditis plus adrenal fatigue. I also have gluten sensitivity (not intolerance), and whenever I took in gluten, I had a whole host of symptoms from achiness to arthritis to hives. And like you, I went out of the traditional medical route and visited with holistic/functional doctors. I have since altered my diet, changed my lifestyle and voila! I am about as 100% back to my old self as I can ever be (at this age… 😉 ).

Long story short — the changes helped! I used to take some medication and extra supplementation (which cost an arm and a leg since these were herbal/natural stuff), but now I am off everything: just eat salads daily, rest a lot and exercise. And of course — the blessing in disguise: if I did not have these problems, I would not have tried to make the changes with my life and I wouldn’t have tried to go into business for myself. I’d still be working the 9 to 5 and battling a daily commute!

I know this is off topic but I think we learn a lot by comparing notes on some of these other issues.

Carol October 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Excellent tip going to the FHA first. When you’re dealing with the lenders directly, it is a “look out” scenario.

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