(Washington, D.C.) Countrywide Financial Corporation (NYSE:CFC) and the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) announce a joint initiative aimed at their common goal of preserving homeownership. NACA will assist Countrywide borrowers facing financial difficulties in communities across the country to identify solutions to help them save their homes.
Representatives of NACA and Countrywide, as well as several borrowers receiving help through this program, will comment on the new initiative at a news conference on Wednesday, October 24, at 2:00 pm in the Edward R. Murrow Room of the National Press Club.
While there is a lot of talk about the at-risk homeowners, NACA and Countrywide have met and developed an effective solution for some borrowers facing a crisis. Under this program, homeowners have a “waterfall” of options, from a payment plan, to modification, to refinancing and finally to restructuring. Homeowners will be able to achieve a mortgage program that provides a payment they can afford over the long-term.
The agreement leverages Countrywide’s market leading home retention programs and NACA’s unique model for counseling borrowers. The program is based on NACA’s comprehensive Home Save approach that includes individual counseling and development of a documented Affordability Budget. NACA will work with Countrywide borrowers who come to NACA for assistance to develop the most effective plan to save their homes, then submit the plan to Countrywide for approval and implementation.
“NACA’s Home Save approach provides unprecedented options to working people at risk of foreclosure.” states NACA CEO Bruce Marks. “The Countrywide agreement has already had a huge impact with homeowners having their loans restructured to as low as five percent.”
“Both Countrywide and NACA want to make homeownership a reality and homeownership preservation a priority,” said Sandor Samuels, Executive Managing Director of Countrywide. “NACA’s methodical approach to counseling and family budgeting will be invaluable to Countrywide borrowers who are struggling to keep their homes.”
Homeowners like Darrell Beringer agree. “I was about to lose my house because I couldn’t pay the higher interest rate,” he said. “The arrangement between NACA and Countrywide allows us to stay in our home and in the community that we call our own.”
Currently, Countrywide has 2,700 home retention specialists who work directly with borrowers and works closely with dozens of borrower counseling organizations. The NACA agreement will enable Countrywide to leverage additional resources of NACA’s 33 local offices across the country to help more of its borrowers remain in their homes.
“In my discussions with executives at Countrywide, it became very apparent that they are serious about home preservation,” said Bruce Marks, Chief Executive Officer, Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. “I hope that this groundbreaking alliance between NACA and Countrywide will provide a framework for other lenders around the country to help their customers maintain their dream of homeownership .”
The struggle for many lenders has been communicating with the borrower. Although Countrywide contacts borrowers via telephone and mail, many borrowers avoid speaking with their lender. Working with nonprofit counseling agencies such as NACA provides borrowers an alternative form of assistance.
Key policymakers, including Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chair Chris Dodd (D-CT) and House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank (D-MA), have called for these kinds of alliances and cooperative efforts to find solutions that keep as many people as possible in their homes.