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Effort to Help Worcester Foreclosed Families Picks Up

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

 

Worcester is home to a foreclosure crisis, and a national group is working to bring relief to the area, one case at a time. The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) has been meeting with local residents at the DCU Center for their four-day-long event to help pair banks and families for a better solution.

“What is key about this program is the face to face contact with your lender, the decision maker,” said Darren Duarte, Director of Communications for NACA. “In many cases, people have tried and failed on their own. They call on the phone. They’re just a number. Here, they sit face to face with that bank, that decision maker, and the bank can tell, ‘Hey this person isn’t lying to me. I see them with their family. They are going through this hardship. Let’s see what we can do to help them.’”

In Worcester

NACA brought bank representatives and volunteers to the DCU to combat the growing problem. The Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team (WAFT), a local group that tries to aid in these issues as well, has seen recent difficulties, something Duarte is all too familiar with.

“While we do have a problem with this in Massachusetts, it’s nothing like when we got to Georgia, Florida, or California. When we host these events there, we have five, six thousand people lined up before we even open the doors,” he said. “We have these events all over the country, and we wanted to reach out to this community too. We know there are some issues in Worcester, and we want to go wherever we’re needed.”

Ana Ramos, local resident who received help from the group’s session yesterday said that without the NACA, she was in serious danger of losing her house.

“Everything started last month when I heard about NACA. I’ve been struggling with my house for a whole year,” she said. “I had three months trial. I’m saving around $500 a month and I’m not losing my house. That’s the best part.” Ramos said that she knows other people in the area in the same position and has been working to spread the word about NACA.

“I heard about them, registered myself, came down, and things started looking better. I went to the office in the Springfield and they told me I wouldn’t regret it,” she said. “They helped me. They take the paperwork to try to help it work for me before I show up at the bank.”

Foreclosures have been a growing issue in Worcester and the threat of losing a home is something affecting many residents.

“We came to Worcester because we heard from some politicians who were saying it might be a good idea to come out here. When we go to an area, we try to help as many people as we can,” Duarte said.

Helping Homeowners

NACA’s mission is to meet one-on-one with homeowners who are stuck with an unaffordable situation, to keep them from being displaced. Their contract with major banks helps them get some leverage.

“This is what we call NACA’s Save the Dream event. It’s a two-pronged event. We help homeowners who already have a mortgage, and it it’s unaffordable, we try to make it affordable,” Duarte said. “We have contracts with every major bank in the country, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that state that if we can document and verify that the mortgage they’re in is unaffordable, we can go as low as a two percent interest rate to help people and in some cases we do see outstanding principal.”

Duarte said that this contract and the one-on-one consultation is what makes their events unique and especially helpful.

“That is the key difference here. Here they can do one-stop shopping. You come in, get counseled, then you go see your bank to get that payment approved,” he said.

Going Out of Business a Good Thing?

He added that NACA is in a strange position. While they exist to help, Duarte said that he hopes that part of their program is one day not needed.

“Hopefully we’re going to put ourselves out of business eventually. We want to go someplace where we’re not needed. The home save side, we hope that goes out of business one day,” he said. “We encourage people to go online and see what documents they need to bring to our events. That way their chance for success is that much greater. Our events are free and we invite anyone to come.”

Proactive Steps

Another part of NACA’s help comes to those just entering into homeownership. They’re taking proactive steps to reduce the number of foreclosures and hardships for families.

“For first-time home buyers, people can come here and try to get what we call NACA’s mortgage,” Duarte explained. “NACA has a mortgage that’s no down payment, the bank pays the closing cost, and there are no points or fees and it’s always at a one percent below market, so people can come here for a mortgage approval as well.”

Good for the Community

While individual families see a benefit from NACA’s work, cities and communities also reap benefits, and communities stay strong.

“When you see the faces of people who can save that money,” he said. “and also know they don’t have to move their kids to another school, it’s pretty powerful.” 

 

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