Hope Now to suspend operations, citing coronavirus restrictions

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A nonprofit dedicated to preserving homeownership will cease operating due in part to the fact that events it staged to bring borrowers and servicers together are at odds with social distancing.

"Hope Now's primary approach to borrower assistance has been organizing and hosting large gatherings of consumers and servicers, an approach that is incompatible with the health risks posed by COVID-19," the nonprofit said in a press release it jointly issued with its parent organization, the Housing Policy Council.

Hope Now also noted that technology connecting borrowers and servicers is much better than when the HPC and the Financial Services Roundtable established it in 2007.

"Today, customer communications and servicing practices that Hope Now encouraged have become more standardized and automated, with a significant shift to online and electronic forms of borrower contact," Hope Now Executive Director Eric Selk said in a press release. "Servicers have developed a direct relationship with community partners. These changes have been beneficial for the industry and consumers alike. Servicers' rapid response to customers in need during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate the lasting impact Hope Now has had."

The resurgence of distress due to the coronavirus has revived interest in at least one of the technological successors to the servicing automation Hope Now originally launched with the help of industry vendor IndiSoft.

Hope Now was originally formed with the encouragement of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to address a large wave of distressed mortgages during the Great Recession. More recently the group had focused on helping borrowers affected by natural disasters.

Hope Now has provided in-person services to more than 200,000 families and hosted over 250 live events.

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