Distressed homeowners flood hotline for Maryland mortgage relief

100 calls per hour Monday morning

BALTIMORE - Foreclosures have already changed the face of many neighborhoods here in Maryland.
"A lot of people in my neighborhood had a whole lot of times where they either had to get put out," said Patrice Tyler of the Belair-Edison community, "A lot of colleagues of mine are homeless at this point, right now, because of that."

Volunteers manning the Attorney General's Mortgage Settlement Hotline handled almost a hundred calls per hour Monday morning, as Marylanders jumped at the chance to save their homes.
"They've tried to refinance," said Kim Cammarata, who handled a few dozen calls, "They've tried to deal with the banks on their own and have been unsuccessful in dealing with the banks.  Most of them talked about really getting the runaround every time they've contacted the bank."

With $960 million coming to the state to help people refinance or lower the amount they owe, Consumer Protection Division Director Bill Gruhn says the first order of business is seeing if you qualify.

"Well, the settlement was with the five largest servicers---Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank,\ and Ally GMAC," said Gruhn, "This settlement isn't going to cover everyone even with these five servicers.  Most significantly, it's not going to cover people whose loans are owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae."

It could be three months or more before any mortgage holder gets any assistance, but operators at the hotline are offering these tips.
If you don't have one already, you shouldget a housing counselor attached to your care by calling the Maryland HOPE Hotline at 1-877-462-7555.
Keep making your payments if you can and make sure you open any letters or answer any calls from your bank.
"The banks have an incentive if they get this relief out to people quickly under the agreement and then there are penalties if they delay," said Gruhn.

You can call the Maryland Attorney General's Office for help at 410-576-6300.
If you lost your home to foreclosure over the last three years to one of the banks listed in the settlement, you may be eligible for up to $2,000.

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