SOURCE: Operation HOPE, Inc.

January 18, 2008 18:35 ET

L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti and Operation HOPE Deliver Needed Assistance to L.A. Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

Angelenos Challenged With Making Escalating Mortgage Payments Have Additional Tool in HOPE's Expanded Hotline

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - January 18, 2008) - Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti and Operation HOPE Founder and CEO John Hope Bryant today announced the expansion and promotional campaign of the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline 877-592-HOPE (4673).

Through various partnerships with a range of financial institutions, the toll-free number is staffed by more than 100 HOPE Corps volunteers, financial professionals who provide counseling services to those in jeopardy of losing their homes. In light of the historic upsurge of subprime mortgage defaults, HOPE has been providing financial literacy education to literally thousands of Angelenos. The recent collaboration with housing advocate NeighborWorks America will give the center the capability to service more clients in both English and Spanish languages.

"We want the many Angelenos who are facing foreclosure to know that they are not alone. Help is just a phone call away. We want people to call as soon as they think they might need help because the earlier they do, the easier it may be to help them. The volunteers at the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline are trained mortgage lending professionals who will provide free counseling to help families keep their homes," said Council President Garcetti.

Homeowners Thomas Rapier and Imelda Sandoval understand first-hand the extent of the nightmare many families are facing.

"We were ready to throw in the towel," said Rapier about their mortgage debacle. "But then we called the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline and we got the help we needed. An assigned representative helped us save our home through negotiations that resulted in a monthly payment we could manage."

Mortgage industry analysts estimate that as many as 1.5 million Americans are at risk of foreclosure as low introductory mortgage rates expire and payments increase. According to the Federal Reserve, approximately 320,000 foreclosures nationwide were initiated in the first two quarters of 2007, up from an average of about 225,000 at this same time during the past six years. More than half of the 2007 foreclosures were on homes financed with subprime mortgages.

"Our mission is to ensure that families don't make the same poor financial decisions," said HOPE's Bryant. "Knowledge is power, and empowerment through financial literacy is what defines HOPE's Silver Rights Movement."

The Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline, which is managed by HOPE Coalition America, is a financial recovery post-disaster and emergency preparedness division (and DHS/FEMA partner) of Operation HOPE. The service was first created in 2005 with backing from The First American Corporation, and virtual volunteer software donated by Microsoft. Staffed by HOPE employees, it serves as a state-of-the-art virtual financial education and services center for individuals seeking credit counseling, homeownership guidance and loan products.

The toll-free crisis hotline will give at-risk homeowners an opportunity to obtain free guidance and information on how to resolve those financial issues. The mortgage crisis counselors are trained to provide guidance on:

--  How to negotiate with lenders
--  How to apply for loan modifications
--  How to avoid foreclosure
--  How to sell a house and purchase a more affordable home
--  How to restructure existing debt and obligations
    

Los Angeles residents experiencing mounting concerns should take the first step in getting accurate information, guidance and referral to available resources by calling the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline at 877-592-HOPE (4673). All services are free and strictly confidential.

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Operation HOPE is the leading nonprofit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization. Through several global initiatives and its three principal programs: Banking on Our Future (teaching youth about financial empowerment), HOPE Coalition America (financial emergency preparedness and disaster recovery), and the HOPE Center Banking Network (loans, bill pay, computer literacy, understanding banking principles).

HCA has a national memorandum of understanding with DHS/FEMA for emergency volunteer economic response. Leading the "silver rights" movement towards making free enterprise and capitalism relevant to all underserved communities, for more information about HOPE and our programs, visit us at www.operationhope.org.

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