A program launched by Nevada's Attorney General to help thousands of underwater borrowers prompted thousands of callers to reach out for help in the first two months of the year.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto created the Home Again Nevada Homeowner Relief Program on Jan. 7 in response to the National Mortgage Settlement to aid current borrowers that are underwater, as well as homeowners entering foreclosure and households working toward homeownership.
"The effects of the housing crisis are still being felt by thousands of Nevadans," the attorney general said. "With many state and federal programs offering relief, the Home Again program allows Nevadans to have a convenient single point of contact to reach a trained housing counselor who can evaluate and advise troubled homeowners or foreclosure victims about options and relief programs for which they may be eligible."
Since the program's introduction, more than 6,000 Nevada homeowners have contacted the designated hotline to determine their eligibility to receive assistance, a recent report by the AG noted.
According to the third quarterly progress report issued by the court-appointed Monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, more than 17,000 Nevada homeowners have received more than $1.7 billion in relief.
The benefits and relief calculated in the report include mortgage modifications, principal reductions, deficiency waivers, refinancing and short-sale financial assistance.
The Home Again hotline report indicates that roughly 40% of the callers make less than 50% of the area's median income. Additionally, the majority of the calls received were recorded from the top four hardest-hit counties in Nevada including Clark, Lyon, Nye and Washoe.
"Under the leadership of the Attorney General the Home Again program has solidified an unprecedented partnership among all Nevada HUD approved agencies," said Michele Johnson, president & CEO of the Financial Guidance Center, the certified U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development agency that is administering the Home Again Program.
She added, "With a single phone number linking the public to multiple agencies, we can alleviate the frustration and confusion that many homeowners, former homeowners and distressed borrowers experience in their quest for relief."
While Masto has been one of the more aggressive attorneys generals when it comes to supporting struggling homeowners, other AGs have filed aggressive plans as well.
The bill of rights reshaped the foreclosure process into one that places a greater burden of proof on lenders and servicers as they attempt to foreclose and access collateral tied to debts.
In February non-judicial foreclosure filings fell significantly in California, which may be due to the Homeowner Bill of Rights rather than a sign that all distressed homeowners in the state are eventually going to find a desirable solutions to their troubles, according to RealtyTrac data.
Additionally, foreclosure starts fell to a six-year low in January, with about one out of every 869 housing units facing a foreclosure filing, the research company reported.
Vice President Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac highlighted a significant transition in the report that caused the state of California to no longer lead the nation in monthly foreclosure activity. The shift was a result of the Homeowner Bill of Rights taking effect.
"For the first time since January 2007 California did not have the most properties with foreclosure filings of any state. Instead that dubious distinction went to Florida, where January foreclosure activity increased on an annual basis for the 11th time in the last 13 months," Blomquist explained.
Furthermore, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has aided thousands of homeowners on the brink of foreclosure as a result of the attorney general's HomeCorp program.
The program, which was created last April in response to the National Mortgage Settlement, has assisted more than 4,600 borrowers in Massachusetts.