A nonprofit agency formed in 2004 through a $20 million contribution from a General Motors Acceptance Corp. subsidiary has launched a toll-free hotline for homeowners facing foreclosure, according to an announcement today.

The hotline, (888) 995-HOPE, and associated Web site, www.995HOPE.org, were launched by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation.

This group, created through a donation by GMAC-RFC, “assists homeowners regardless of whichever mortgage company handles the loan. To offset the costs of the financial counseling sessions, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation seeks the financial assistance of mortgage companies for participating in the program,” according to the announcement today.

The GMAC family of companies also includes GMAC Real Estate, a company with about 1,300 franchised and company-owned offices and about 20,000 sales associates; GMAC Global Relocation Services; and GMAC Mortgage, one of the largest mortgage companies in the country, among other companies.

Walt Fricke, president and executive director of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, said in the announcement, “Based on industry research, slightly more than 50 percent of homeowners (facing foreclosure) will avoid contacting their mortgage company.” An average foreclosure may cost a mortgage company $50,000 or more, he also stated.

Homeowners who contact the hotline are connected to counselors who work for HUD-certified counseling agencies, the announcement states, and the “financial counselors help homeowners address their financial issues, spell out which options are available to the homeowner, based on their financial situation, and establish a dialogue between the homeowner and the homeowner’s mortgage company.”

The foundation pays for about 75 counselors who are trained to handle foreclosure prevention calls. Also, the foundation has established a partnership with NeighborWorks America, which offers advice and counseling, the foundation announced.

The hotline reportedly can handle up to 10,000 calls per month. The foundation is also planning a television and radio campaign to address foreclosure, according to the announcement.

“With the rising number of foreclosures that have occurred over the past five years, providing a hotline for homeowners and promoting through a nationwide campaign is long overdue. We believe we can make a difference on behalf of the mortgage industry,” Fricke said.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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