(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller called on Iowa lawmakers to extend a state law that requires creditors to provide notices to Iowans facing foreclosure of free, confidential mortgage counseling services offered through Iowa Mortgage Help.
“Many homeowners facing foreclosure are hanging by a thread. And that thread is Iowa Mortgage Help, which runs a hotline that has fielded more than 20,000 calls from homeowners in desperate need of help,” said Miller. “Thousands of these Iowans learned about the hotline through state-mandated notices. I urge our legislature to make sure that Iowans who need it most are aware that this invaluable free help is available.”
Under a law that expires July 1, creditors are required to inform homeowners facing foreclosure about Iowa Mortgage Help and its free counseling and mediation services. Creditors do so through a “Mortgage Mediation Notice,” which is posted at www.IowaMortgageHelp.com. The notice requirement is federally funded and does not require state funding. “This important program doesn’t cost the state. But it will cost Iowans and their communities dearly if homeowners in financial trouble don’t know it’s available,” Miller said.
Miller requests the legislature to extend the notice requirement for one year. Both the Iowa Senate and the Iowa House have passed the extension, but not in the same piece of legislation.
Iowa Mortgage Help offers assistance through free, confidential mortgage counseling. In some cases, Iowa Mortgage Help is able, through mediation, to restructure mortgage terms by emphasizing loan modifications (where interest rates are reduced or other charges are made to the loan terms to help the borrower). Since March 1, 2008 more than 15,000 Iowans facing foreclosure have filed applications for Iowa Mortgage Help’s assistance. Some 5,000 homeowners have received a positive outcome and avoided foreclosure.
Miller and the Iowa Finance Authority created the hotline with a $1.5 million federal grant. Other partners include Iowa Mediation Service, Iowa Legal Aid, local housing counseling non-profits located throughout the state, and their umbrella organization, the Iowa Home Ownership Education Project, or IHOEP.
Iowans who face mortgage problems should call the toll-free Iowa Mortgage Help Hotline at 877-622-4866 on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit the website at www.IowaMortgageHelp.com. Homeowners can also go in person to one of the housing counseling agencies located throughout the state and listed at the website. The available assistance includes counseling, negotiation of loan modifications, and other forms of loss mitigation. The support is free, confidential, and open to all Iowa homeowners.