New Loan Provides ‘New Life’

Homeport Advice Enables Area Resident To Avoid Foreclosure

When Maurice Hunter entered Homeport’s office in early May he was deeply distressed at the possibility of losing his home since 1996. He was behind on mortgage payments and his lender had denied several requests for a loan modification.

“I was in desperate need of help to figure out what was I doing wrong,” Hunter recalled. “It just wasn’t working.”

Kyra Crook

Kyra Crook

Fortunately when Hunter entered Homeport’s office on Agler Road -- without an appointment -- he was able to see financial counselor Kyra Crook. Crook reviewed Hunter’s paperwork and helped him to successfully re-apply for a better term loan provided through a federal program.

Today, Hunter is working two jobs and breathing easier. “It was a load off my mind,” he said.

Nationally, property foreclosures have fallen to the lowest point since before the Great Recession. But there remains a strong need for financial classes on how to budget to stay out of trouble or re-finance, Homeport counselors say. Through the first six months of 2015, Homeport helped 141 individuals in need of default counseling.

Because of the volume of cases they have handled, particularly during the recession, Homeport counselors can catch mistakes consumers can easily make in loan refinance applications.

“Upon contacting the lender and getting information regarding what Mr. Hunter had previously submitted, it was clear to me that his previous application had errors,” said Homeport’s Crook. 

“I encouraged him to resubmit the application and I reviewed this new application first, prior to sending it into the lender myself,” she said.

“After a few weeks, Mr. Hunter was advised by his lender that he had been approved for an FHA Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) loan where his home was no longer in jeopardy of being foreclosed upon, his payments had been lowered, and he had some time before his first payment was due.  Mr. Hunter acted as though he had been given new life!” Crook recalled.

Hunter learned of Homeport when he contacted the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the administrator of the “Save the Dream Ohio” program established in 2008 to help families avoid foreclosure through programs such as the Hardest Hit Fund and Making Home Affordable.

Funding lines to help residents catch up with past mortgage payments have closed, but OHFA provides leads to HUD-approved housing counseling agencies such as Homeport. Homeport was barely a five minute drive from Hunter’s two-bedroom home off North Cassady Avenue.

Hunter said he had fallen behind in his mortgage payments when he lost workers compensation benefits he had been receiving following back and leg injuries suffered as a street maintenance worker for the city of Columbus.

Hunter said that he would encourage others who need financial direction to consider Homeport because sometimes you need help in finding a way out of bad situation.

“It is just like going down a dark alley. You don’t know the twists and turns. You just want somebody to shine a light,” Hunter said. “I did a lot of praying. I was hoping for a miracle to happen and it did.”

(Individuals interested in Homeport’s financial counseling services can visit www.homeportohio.org/learn or call 614-221-8889, ext 134.)