Written by Felix Minderbinder
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Wednesday, 2 April 2008

image for "Hope Now" Becomes "Hope-Less" as Distressed Homeowners Shafted
A Hope Now client who lost his home

WASHINGTON (FMLiveWire) - Nearly 5,000 distressed homeowners call Hope Now, the White House-backed organization formed to help them, every day.

But none of them get the mortgage relief they are hoping for, since the mortgage lenders and investors backing Hope Now will not change their loan terms to reduce the onerous payments.

Hope Now resists all urging to give a break to homeowners.

President Bush held up Hope Now as a crucial tool to fight foreclosures, yet it consistently places the interests of lenders over those of borrowers who inevitably are foreclosed and tossed into the street, or who take heavy losses when they sell.

Hope Now doesn't release any statistics and even those people who work with Hope Now say it has done nothing to keep the housing crisis from worsening.

"Hope Now is a failure," said Simon Squirrel, the executive director of the Acorn Housing Corporation, a counseling agency that is part of Hope Now.

Hope Now is mortgage industry-dominated and employs just three people he says.

People who dial Hope Now's toll-free number, 1-888-995-HOPE, are routed to call centers and then to a credit counselor.

But only about 4 percent of callers ever reaches a housing counselor, who always prove to be clueless and unhelpful.

Such counselors always tell callers to sell their homes for less than the value of his mortgage or face immediate foreclosure.

Thus there are no such things as Hope Now success stories.

Privately, Hope Now officials say they will not take losses on bad mortgage loans and give homeowners any sort of break leading to lower monthly payments.

Another Hope Now official said privately that desperate homeowners "had better abandon all hope if they believe anything that George Bush says about mortgage relief."

--Copyright Felix Minderbinder Live Wire

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