As the mortgage crisis was transforming from a bad dream into a full blown nightmare in 2007, it was clear that a collaborative approach was the only way to deal with the unprecedented number of homeowners facing foreclosure nationwide.
The mortgage industry needed to not only band together, but it needed to bring the non-profits, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, mortgage insurers and other stakeholders to the table as well.
President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson also realized this immediate need and mobilized. They enlisted the Financial Services Roundtable, American Bankers Association and Mortgage Bankers Association as the architects of this collaboration. The result was an alliance of mortgage servicers, investors and other mortgage market participants known as the HOPE NOW Alliance (www.hopenow.com).
The alliance was set up as a privately funded non-profit dedicated to outreach to at-risk borrowers and collection of data on loan solutions (loan modifications, repayment plans, short sales, forbearance, etc.). Additionally, HOPE NOW worked with the Homeownership Preservation Foundation to promote its Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline™ – a free resource for connecting distressed borrowers to HUD-certified, non-profit housing counselors in their local area.
The newly formed HOPE NOW Alliance was supposed to last one year, two years tops.
As I write this post on January 7, 2016, HOPE NOW is in year nine of its existence. And while the organization itself has become physically smaller due to industry contraction, its presence and relevance to the housing market is still quite large.
Since HOPE NOW was formed, the organization’s industry members have completed more than seven million loan modifications, held over 160 face to face borrower assistance events in 29 states, partnered with more than 200 non-profits and government agencies and has become a leading resource for at-risk homeowners across the country.
Notable government partners have included Making Home Affordable, HUD, several United States Congressional members, regional Federal Reserve Banks and CFPB.
HOPE NOW has also spearheaded initiatives on military home ownership, mortgage originations, compliance and abandoned properties. The organization regularly sends expert speakers and panelists to community housing roundtables, Congressional briefings and industry/non-profit conferences.
HOPE NOW’s efforts started on a large scale, focused on a national housing recovery. As housing has generally recovered on a national level, the organization has shifted its priorities from macro to micro in order to meet the needs of the communities still struggling.
It is important to note that the creation of HOPE NOW has opened the door for the industry to create lasting partnerships, streamline their operations, and most importantly offer more sustainable and affordable solutions for homeowners.