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Cook County reaching out to help homeowners

Monday, September 15, 2008
Chicago Defender
by by Wendell Hutson

Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage can attend a free workshop aimed at reducing their current interest rate thanks to a partnership between Cook County and a non-profit community organization.

“I see the hardship the foreclosure crisis created every day when I drive past for sale signs and boarded up buildings,” Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said at a Wednesday press conference announcing the program. “The reality is that many homeowners are in crisis because they’ve been victimized by predatory lenders.”

The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America will spearhead the workshop, which begins Sept. 13 and will be offered through Oct. 26 at various locations throughout Cook County.

For its part, the county will assist in promoting the workshop on its Web sites, through radio advertisements and by county employees volunteering to hand out flyers, said Lashawn James, an administrative assistant to Stroger.

NACA officials said the organization would renegotiate a homeowners’ loan the same day they attend the workshop.

“We’ve been expanding our mission to make the mortgage industry as a whole more accountable to the people by pressing lenders to take steps to reduce unnecessary foreclosures,” said Don Meadows, a spokesman for NACA.

Carmen Donaire is a former NACA client who was struggling to pay her $3,658 monthly mortgage. Now she pays $1,967 a month, and her variable interest rate dropped from 9.6 percent to a 3.25 percent fixed-rate. The new rate includes insurance, taxes, and the interest and principle payments.

“Working with NACA has allowed me and my kids to stay in our home,” said Donaire. “When my income dropped, we were in terrible shape. But with help, we’re now able to stay in Logan Square, in a neighborhood we love, and that is great for my children.”

For more information about the workshop, call (773) 723-NACA.



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