Volume 5 Number 14
April 4, 2008

FORECLOSURE ASSISTANCE CENTER OPENS IN WEST PALM BEACH

The City of West Palm Beach has joined with national organizations and banks to create a first of its kind Foreclosure assistance center. The Center is free and is a dedicated to providing direct solutions to homeowners and the city’s neighborhoods that have been affected by foreclosures. Residents of the City of West Palm Beach may visit the Center and speak with counselors at 464 Fern Street from 9-5 Monday-Friday; or counselors may be reached by telephone at 561-822-1575. Appointments with counselors are available on a case-by-case basis for nights and weekends.

Director Emelda Johnson has said the center’s goal is to provide homeowners the most direct services possible and to be a one-stop location for resources. In order to receive any benefits from the Center, City of WPB homeowners must agree to register in a housing education program for a minimum of 12 months. The Center is focused on immediate solutions for homeowners facing loss of their property located in the City of West Palm Beach. The options include direct payment to mortgagees for payments due up to $10,000; negotiation with the lender for new loan repayment agreements; purchase of the home should the lender agree to a “Short Sale”; purchased homes are then available through the city’s affordable housing program; also assistance with finding jobs and making a credit recovery plan.

The Center opened Monday March 31 and that evening over 100 voicemails were left from people that wanted help; about 1/3 of them were residents of Saint Lucie County which is over 50 miles away. Although residents outside the City of West Palm Beach are not eligible for the direct assistance options, counselors still spoke with homeowners outside the city to give them assistance referrals to other partner entities such as the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

The Center hopes to be a unique model that could be duplicated throughout the United States. Its partners include The Urban League, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education and Community Housing, Inc. (REACH), BankAtlantic, Bank of America, Foreclosure.com, HSBC Bank, National City Bank, The Housing Partnership, SunTrust Bank, The T.A.C. Companies, Unified Financial Group, United Way of Palm Beach County, and Consumer Credit Counseling Service.