United Way helps fight foreclosures

One of United Way of the Lowcountry’s agencies, the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, works with families every day who are experiencing financial concerns. Last year, Consumer Credit assisted almost 8,000 individuals and families through counseling and education programs.
One particular case involved a middle-aged man named George who was born and raised in Savannah, started his own business and moved to Atlanta.
“Then tragedy struck,” George recalled. “My mom, who is my best friend in the world, was struck with cancer.  It is a rare form of cancer that has been spreading throughout her body.  I was devastated.”
Two years ago, George decided to move back to Savannah to care for his mother and also to provide financial support as the mother’s medications were almost $3,000 per month. As George’s mother required constant care, he was unable to work or continue his business, which subsequently dissolved.
George ran through his savings, sold his truck and even his personal belongings to assist in keeping the household expenses up to date. The mother, in due course, qualified for hospice care and when George sought assistance through Consumer Credit Counseling Service for free foreclosure prevention counseling, they were almost six months past due on the mortgage.
The mortgage company wanted to foreclose on the property unless they received $6,567 to bring the mortgage current.
George shared that the mortgage payment was originally around $800 a month, but had increased steadily to where it was now $1,149 per month. Consumer Credit Counseling Service quickly identified that it was an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM).  George also mentioned that he could also work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays since hospice was caring for the mother on those days.
Consumer Credit worked with George on evaluating income and expenses and in negotiating with the lender on an arrangement to cure the default, avoid foreclosure and move the mortgage into a fixed interest rate loan.
The lender, after receiving a hardship packet and analysis of the financial situation from Consumer Credit, agreed that if the client made three consecutive monthly payments of $750, they would pull the mortgage out of default and set the mortgage up on a fixed interest loan. The monthly payments going forward would be $747.39.
This amounted to a savings of $400 each month for the family. Translating the monthly savings to a 30-year mortgage, this meant a savings of $144,000 over the life of the loan.
“Without the help of Consumer Credit, we would have lost the house and my 79-year-old mother, who probably only has a few months to live, would have been put out in the streets.  Thank you and God bless you from the bottom of my heart,” George said of Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
Today, the United Way of the Lowcountry Board of Directors announced gifts and pledges have been received totaling $775,136, about 28 percent of the organization’s 2012 Fall goal of $2.8 million.
“We have a great start, but we have a long way to go to meet the needs of this community,” said Sandra Chavez, chairwoman of the Board of Directors. “For countless people like George, Consumer Credit Counseling Service can save homes. Saving homes can help save lives — that’s what United Way of the Lowcountry is all about.”
To learn more about United Way of the Lowcountry, call 843-982-3040 or visit www.uwlowcountry.org.

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