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ConsumerWatch

Get Free Foreclosure Counseling

April 30, 2008

Columbus, GA (WTVM)--A sign stamped foreclosure is one no homeowner wants to see on their property, but these days, it's more like a sign of the times.

In Georgia, one out of every 351 residents received a foreclosure notice last month...the sixth highest rate in the nation.

"We've seen our calls increase by at least 100%, at least by that much and it's just really the beginning," says Melanie Faison of Neighborworks Columbus.

In addition to education about home ownership, Neighborworks Columbus provides free, foreclosure prevention counseling.

They start by reaching out to struggling homeowners through a letter, sending them out based on foreclosure listings in the newspaper.

Officials at Consumer Credit Counseling Services of West Georgia and East Alabama do the same.

It's one of several organizations across the country to recently receive grant money to help with the foreclosure crisis.

"Well, basically what we would do is sit down and prepare a budget for them we need to look at all of their debt and income levels, and create a budget and see, can they really afford the home," says Consumer Credit Counseling's Lisa Scrivner.

Scrivner says once they determine if the client can or wants to keep the home, they provide several options from there.  Serving as somewhat of a middle man between the homeowner and lender.

"Maybe they could get a loan modification, a forbearance agreement, if they have decided they don't want to keep the home, you know, maybe we can assist them in a pre-foreclosure sale," adds Scrivner about the process.

The counseling sessions are free, and available to any homeowner.

In fact, Scrivner says it's best to tackle the subject before it becomes a problem.

"If they realize they're fixing to lose their job in three months, or if they're going to get laid off, we can start to prepare a plan so they aren't waiting until the last minute."

For more information on free foreclosure counseling in the Valley:

Consumer Credit Counseling Services-706-327-3239 or visit, www.cccs-wga.com

NeighborWorks Columbus-706-324-4663 or visit, www.nwcolumbus.com

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