The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), which operates the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline, announced Tuesday that more than 124,000 homeowners have called the hotline since President Obama announced his “Making Home Affordable” plan on March 4, 2009.  On average, 13,500 homeowners have reached out to the Hotline each day since the announcement, about three times the average number of daily calls the Hotline received prior to the release of the president’s program. The Making Home Affordable program is made up of two levels of aid — a refinance program effective for an estimated 4 to 5 million homeowners and a modification program estimated to reach between 3 and 4 million homeowners. The plan offers servicer and borrower incentives, designed in such a way as to allow for immediate modifications, in hopes of preventing unnecessary foreclosures. The plan has “clearly been a catalyst for homeowners to reach out for help,” said Colleen Hernandez, HPF’s president and executive director. Hernandez said the increase in volume was not a surprise.  “The Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline is still the only place to which homeowners may turn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free housing counseling assistance from counseling agencies certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” she said. Not to mention, counseling is provided in English, Spanish, and 19 other languages. The Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline has received more than 390,000 calls thus far in 2009, compared to the approximately 20,000 calls received in the same period in 2007.  In 2008, the Hotline received a total of 1.2 million calls. If the current pace of calls continues through 2009, the Hotline will receive more than 1.5 million calls, according to the agency’s press release. The increase in calls showcases the growing demand for housing counseling services — especially free services. The Homeownership Preservation Foundation said the recent surge in calls to the hotline may require homeowners to be more patient than they have in the past. But “the Homeowner’s Hope Hotline is committed to helping as many homeowners as possible get the help they need and we’ll work as quickly as possible to make that happen.” Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade

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