Database Provides Financial Assistance for Distressed Borrowers

MortgageKeeper Referral Services has developed a database that helps struggling borrowers improve their financial situations by connecting them to qualified nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies.

According to a survey conducted by MortgageKeeper, Downers Grove, Ill., respondents who used the company’s resources last year saved at least $250 a month, which helped them qualify for a loan modification.

“Homeowners deserve to be directed to reputable organizations when they are in trouble,” said Rochelle Gorey, president and co-founder of MortgageKeeper. “Unfortunately, this does not happen enough because when people are in trouble, the only people they hear from are the unscrupulous guys out there waiting to take advantage of them. We wanted to build something that would put homeowners in touch with local organizations that would have their best interests at heart.”

In the database, borrowers can customize from 20 different service categories based on their specific needs, such as assistance for utilities, food, payments and prescription drugs. Dean Caldwell-Tautges, director of sales at MortgageKeeper, said nine out of 10 homeowners are struggling with at least one of these problems.

After a borrower inputs into the database what type of help they need, resources are provided based on proximity to the homeowner’s ZIP code. The homeowner then can choose which agency to call to inquire about their services and find out if they can assist them somehow financially. Even if a borrower lives in a rural community that does not have as many resources as a suburban or metropolitan area, the database also retrieves state and national resources to assist that individual.

“The good thing about our system is that no matter where a person may live, they will never not get a return for some type of help,” Gorey said.

The Web-based information and referral data system is used so far in 75 cities across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., which represents 90% of the foreclosure market. There are over 6,000 local resources nationwide that are available to support homeowners.

Gorey said there are at least three resources a borrower can contact in each market for every service category the database offers assistance for. In most markets, there are approximately 60 to 100 agencies to choose from to receive financial aid, Gorey said. However, she added that a city like Chicago, which contains a large concentration of nonprofit organizations, would have more options than a city like San Francisco.

“It all depends upon the specific market,” she said.

There is no cost for a homeowner to obtain information from the MortgageKeeper database or for the nonprofits to participate in this service. The lenders are the only customers who have to pay in order for their borrowers to use this tool. Subscribers include Ocwen Loan Servicing and two other top 25 servicers, consumer credit management firms Clearpoint Credit Counseling, CredAbility and Springboard, and the hotline for the Homeownership Preservation Foundation.

MortgageKeeper also plans on releasing its database in Spanish to assist individuals who are more comfortable reading the website in this language.

“Some people are just more comfortable reading in Spanish, but know how to speak in English,” Gorey said. “We know there’s a need because there are a lot of Spanish-speaking communities that are facing high foreclosure rates. So the customer or servicer will have the option of running two window applications—one in Spanish and one in English.”