HARP Outreach Event Highlights – Detroit, MI

Sandra Thompson, Deputy Director, Division of Housing Mission & Goals, FHFA: Welcome to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s third outreach program on the HARP initiative. We’re very happy to be here today in Detroit. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan: And the question I get asked every single day from the people that are in the neighborhoods say I stayed in my house, I stayed in
this neighborhood what about me? And today is where the federal government comes in and explains what’s available. Rep. John Conyers Jr.: Now the Home Affordable Refinance Program is an exceptional way for homeowners who have remained current on their
mortgage to refinance and get back on strong financial footing. Rep. Dan Kildee: When it comes to a mortgage it’s more than money, it’s the strength of
a community families make communities, and communities support families. Sandra Thompson: This is a program that is designed to allow a streamline, or a shorter refinance process, for eligible borrowers whose homes have declined in value. Before we launched our national outreach initiative we talked with several focus groups and several borrowers who reiterated this very issue. Many said
they were overwhelmed and didn’t know who or what to trust,
they asked themselves how do you know that this information we’re getting in the mail or these phone calls we’re getting, how do we know that this isn’t all scam? But as brokers of information you can play a significant role in
reaching the HARP eligible borrowers in your area. And I
can’t think of a better leader for this country for this very important
issue than the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency my boss, Mel Watt Director Mel Watt, FHFA: We are only small players in a larger group of players who are trying to bring housing back, revitalize our neighborhoods in Detroit and put a floor under homeowners and make life better in Detroit. In the Detroit MSA a hundred and seventeen thousand people have already taken us up
on the offer to refinance through the HARP program
but there’s still almost twenty-eight thousand Detroit area people who are eligible for this program that for one reason or another have not taken us up on it. So for those twenty-seven, twenty-eight thousand people in the Detroit area to whom we have written multiple letters, they
open them and said, well you know several years ago I already got scammed. I don’t believe somebody is trying to help me save two hundred dollars a month. We’re going to do multiple programs just to try to tell people that this program is not a scam. And we need your help. Tim Bowler, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, U.S. Department of the Treasury: In regard to HARP
this program is so important you need to get your constituents, you
need to get your neighbors, you need to get your friends to take a
look at this program. Katrina Jones, Vice President Customer Engagement,
Fannie Mae: She called me up and said Tina, that’s what they call me at home, Tina you won’t believe this my mortgage payment dropped by more than three hundred dollars. It’s interesting that she as a single parent
of three children to her that was like getting a pay raise. Christina Diaz-Malone, Vice President, Corporate Relations & Housing Outreach, Freddie Mac:
In this case, the government is acknowledging, as well as Fannie and Freddie are, as
government-sponsored enterprises, that you through this crisis have been making your payments. Heather Lovier, Vice President of Business
Development, Quicken Loans: But it is a very streamlined process as it relates to documentation, the appraisal, just a lot of different things that we can do to help benefit the homeowner and get them the
money by reducing their interest rates so that they can spend in the community or they can continue to stay in their home. Eric Dusenbury, Michigan State Housing Development Authority: The surprising thing is it’s underused, underutilized so the more people that know about the HARP grant that MSHDA has the better so we want to get that word out too Sandra Thompson: Right, and you said grant, not loan? Eric Dusenbury: It’s a grant it’s pretty much free money, no repayments required and that five-hundred bucks goes towards the closing costs or whatever to make it more palatable an easier to use. Sandra Thompson: How does that work if you have a loan with one servicer, can you go to another? Katrina Jones: She can actually go back to
her lender, that collects her mortgage payment or she can go to any other mortgage
originator she wants. So in essence she has the opportunity for other lenders to compete for her business. Sandra Thompson: So there’s a panoply of different options that we really need to educate people about so that you know what’s best for you and that you can make a really good decision. One of the things that l’d like to share with you is our pilot Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative and this is a program that was developed jointly by FHFA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and
it’s designed to stabilize neighborhoods that have been the hardest hit by the housing downturn. It promotes strategies to help delinquent borrowers and avoid a foreclosure and it also has some strategies for disposition of foreclosed properties and that is very important as we’ve heard today. Craig Nickerson, President, National Community Stabilization Trust: We’re working on everything from HARP, to aggressive mod programs, to conveying of low value notes, to working faster in the foreclosures space and doing into in a manner that the sum becomes greater than the individual parts. So we need to be faster, we need to condense the the First Look and donation effort and get rid of properties, figure out the best taker, developer of property so we can put it back in to use immediately. So what Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are doing and with the direct involvement of FHFA and the trust is working to provide much
deeper subsides, we will talk about what they are a few minutes, but much deeper discounts on the value of property initially, so that we can factor in a means of renovating and reusing those properties. Audience Member: What we need, what we need to keep people in their homes and fight blight before it happens is principal reduction and we need it desperately here in the city of Detroit. Forty-two percent of this city’s homeowners
are underwater. Director Mel Watt: We’re still looking at
principle reduction and we’re, we’re doing it in in a thoughtful, careful way and I appreciate your input. Audience Member: What do we need to do to make sure the people who need help, who are already in foreclosure, who don’t qualify for the HAMP program, sorry the HARP program, get the
assistance that they need so we don’t end up with more vacant and abandoned properties blighting our city…so if you can give me some idea what we could do to help keep people in their homes who don’t qualify for HARP who might qualify for HAMP, but won’t get any play with the bank’s that would make my job easier. Tim Bowler: The best advice I can give is for anybody that might need help is to call our
hotline. That the number I gave earlier 888-995-hope. Because they’re they’ll end up speaking to a professional counselor that’s handled hundreds if not thousands of situations similar to that. They’ll actually be an advocate on behalf of the homeowner that’s had some trouble they’ll help them talk to the servicer and try
to find good solutions. Audience Member: Why is there no help act after the six month redemption period is over? In Michigan you have a six months to redeem your property and a lot of people, there’s about twenty
people here in Michigan, there are families in other parts of the country
who are still in their homes after the redemption period, they need a program or they need some type of assistance in getting their homes
back. Craig Nickerson: There is something now called Quick Look that we’ve started, it’s just starting, but in that program
what we’re doing is as soon as a foreclosure sale happens we’re connecting that homeowner with a nonprofit that has an interest in that family and in that property to work out the best
possible solution to see if they can stay and under what
circumstances they can stay and if that’s not the case to give them a
soft landing to a new residence while they fix up the property but it’s a very good point. This program is just starting but I want you give us a little chance to see if we can make it work. Director Mel Watt: We do know that there’s a lot of frustration. We know there’s a lot of history here that we can’t change. I hope you all will help us find those twenty-six thousand, twenty-eight thousand individuals and help us get them the benefits of the HARP program. And we’ll continue to try to help people who don’t qualify for HARP but have already going into default and we’re going
to continue trying to do that regardless of what the message is
here today. So we thank you for being here. There are people outside to deal with individual situations to the extent we can, to provide more information about the programs that we’re trying to to put into place. Some of them are in their early stages, they won’t
solve every problem that has existed in the
past or every problem that we will confront
in the future but umm the journey of a thousand miles begins with the very first step and we’re trying to take that first step. Thank you for being here.

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