The Story of Addie Polk

November 25, 2008

Below is a story originally published in the New Yorker about a woman named Addie Polk. It shows that anyone can be impacted by the mortgage crisis – even those who may seem unlikely victims. The article also brings to light the intense phychological toll that a foreclosure can take on individuals. It’s not just people’s credit reports that get hit when their home is foreclosed on, it’s their entire way of life.

So, if you or someone you know is at-risk of foreclosure there are resources available to help. If you live in the St. Louis are you can call the United Way’s 2-1-1 referral service at 1-800-427-4626 or visit their website at If you do not live in St. Louis you can call 1-888-995-HOPE or visit HOPE NOW website at

To read the New Yorker story click here or on the picture below.



More Information from HOPE NOW

November 24, 2008

Written by: Linda Ingram 

HOPE NOW, the private sector alliance of mortgage servicers, non-profits, counselors and investors announced this week that it has developed a new program called SMP or “Streamlined Modification Plan”.  SMP expands what many lenders are already doing and will begin December 15th.  It is the result of working with the US Treasury, HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and major loan servicers. 

Under this plan, lenders will use an expedited process to modify or restructure loans making payments more affordable for homeowners.  Faith Schwartz, executive director of HOPE NOW, says, “SMP will help stabilize the housing market”.


Eligible borrowers must be 90 days late, can be in foreclosure but not bankruptcy and must be living in single family owner occupied property


For the modification to be complete, the homeowner must make 3 payments within 90 days of the new modified payment and be current on day 90.


Escrows for taxes and insurance are mandatory.


Lenders will send letters to qualified borrowers but borrowers should not hesitate to call their lender to see if they qualify.


All the participating servicers and investors encourage borrowers to contact housing counseling agencies.  They can receive free counseling by calling Beyond Housing 314-533-0600 x22 or visit to find a counselor.

The importance of communicating with your mortgage company

November 17, 2008

Written by: Eric Madkins

The Importance of Communicating With Your Mortgage Company

For years housing counselors have worked with existing and potential homeowners.  Whether it is helping homeowners realize the American Dream and/or sustaining that very dream. Today the act of “sustaining” is vital as economic conditions worsen. 


For homeowners who are facing difficulties with their current mortgage, I cannot stress the importance of effective and consistent communication with your mortgage lender or loan servicer.  When I say communication, I mean written and verbal communication.  If your loan is past due, the letters from the mortgage company often continue to pile up.  Please take the time to open and read the letters from your lender!!!  There are new programs that lenders such as Countrywide, Bank of America and Citigroup are extending to their borrowers.  If you are eligible for one of these programs you will receive written communication via postal mail.


Another aspect of communication is verbal.  I know that many borrowers facing difficulty with their mortgage are inundated with collection calls.  Some of the calls may seem never ending.  With several collections departments of these mortgage companies, the main objective is to collect on the debt. 


For borrowers receiving such calls, I recommend requesting to speak to someone in the loss mitigation department.  This department, besides looking to collect on the debt, can actually offer a long-term solution for the borrower.  Again, if you need assistance, in working with your lender do not hesitate to contact a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency. 


A word of advice: if you are working directly with loss mitigation be realistic about the type of plan offered and be forthright about household expenses.  If you enter into a plan without the help of a housing counselor, make sure that the plan is achievable and affordable. 


And lastly, the next form of communication is listening.  Continue to remain informed about the overall mortgage industry because the situation is changing daily.  Many of these changes can have a positive impact on your current mortgage.   In addition, through public policy there are changes that have occurred that may help borrowers, especially borrowers with adjustable rate mortgage.  To find out if you qualify for special programs, please contact your lender and open your mail.  For further information contact a HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency, too.


Eric Madkins is a HUD approved housing counselor with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. He can be contacted by e-mail at and by phone at 314-615-3644.

Who is Impacted by the Mortgage Crisis?

November 14, 2008
November 14, 2008

The short answer to that question is everyone. The longer answer is that through the work on this I have discovered hundreds of different stories of people who have gone through or are in the process of foreclosure. No two stories are exactly the same. The problem is impacting people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic status.

I was just alerted by Linda Ingram – one of our partners and contributor to this blog – of a heartbreaking St. Louis Post-Dispatch article (you can view the story by clicking on the photo below).  Please take a look at the story. It shows that foreclosure can impact any homeowner at any time.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I.O.U.S.A Information and Trailer

November 12, 2008
November 12, 2008

As we continue to connect people to resources and raise awareness of the impact of the mortgage crisis in St. Louis the scope of the problem has become much broader and deeper. As a result, we at KETC have been discussing how to continue to connect people to resources and raise awareness and broaden our message. We are currently in planning for phase two of our project and expect launch to launch sometime soon.

In the meantime we believe that one way to look at the current crisis is through the lense of financial issues. We invite the community to be a part of this on Tuesday, November 18 at the Missouri History Museum for a screening of the film I.O.U.S.A. Prior to the screening of the film (6 – 7pm) many of our communtiy partners will be available to discuss financial issues and provide information. These organizations include Better Family Life, Beyond Housing, The St. Louis Beacon, The Metro St. Louis Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce, Clearpoint Financial Solutions, The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Watch the trailer for the film below.

Community Cinema Series: I.O.U.S.A

November 12, 2008
November 12, 2008

Please join us for the St. Louis Community Cinema Series at the Missouri History Museum on Tuesday, November 18 for a screening of the film I.O.U.S.A. Take a look at the flyer below. I will be posting the trailer momentarily.


Facing Foreclosure? Make the call!

November 11, 2008
November 11, 2008

If you are living in St. Louis and are having problems making your mortgage payment or are having trouble with rising debt there is help available. The United Way has a 2-1-1 referral service available that will connect you to the help that you may need. Below is some more information about 2-1-1.


Phone Number: 1-800-427-4626 (if you are on a cellphone or live in Illinois)

Phone Number: 2-1-1 (if you are on a landline in Missouri)