Labor’s Community Service Agency and Machinists District Lodge 24 helped sponsor a seminar Oct. 22 for people facing foreclosure on their homes.
The workshop, “Getting Traction,” was presented by Good Grief America, a nonprofit organization based in Central Point, Oregon. Approximately 70 people attended the workshop, including union members, nonunion members, attorneys, and real estate agents.
Nancie Koerber and Mark Thomas founded Good Grief America last year. The organization does not give legal or tax advice, Thomas said, focusing more on providing moral support and helping direct homeowners who are feeling lost in the shuffle due to the process.
First and foremost, workshops emphasize to participants that they are not bad people, but rather they have been put in a bad situation by banks and mortgage lenders making huge profits off their misfortunes.
Koerber and Thomas have experienced first-hand the difficulties homeowners face when they can’t pay their mortgage. When it happened to them, they set out to find a solution that would satisfy their lenders, while at the same time keep them in their home. What they discovered was that no one really wanted to help and that lenders were abusing the system, including the federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Plan (HAMP).
As they started sharing their information, more and more people — including attorneys, accountants, and civic leaders — got involved. “We found that attorneys didn’t know what we knew,” Koerber said. “They started coming to our seminars to learn from us.”
To date, Good Grief America has conducted a dozen seminars throughout the state, sharing information with some 400 homeowners. Participants are asked for a donation of $20, but no one is ever turned away.
“Nothing is ever sold, or for sale at our seminars,” Koerber said.
The Oct. 22 seminar covered issues such as: why loan “servicers” aren’t cooperating; who is the decisionmaker and owner of a home loan?; homeowner rights and what to do to ensure them; tools that will bring lender decisionmakers to the table; what is a “qualified written request” and how to use it; and how to use a loan audit as a bargaining chip.
The couple also encourages distressed homeowners to take notes of — or even record — every conversation they have and to keep those notes readily available in a binder.
“In the State of Oregon you don’t have to let the other side know you are recording,” Thomas said. “If you ask for permission to record they will hang up.”
Good Grief America has created an online community for distressed homeowners at www.goodgriefamerica. ning.com.
Additionally, Vicki Burns, executive director of Labor’s Community Service Agency, said more seminars can be arranged if union locals are interested. For more information, Burns can be reached at 503-231-4962.
Koerber and Thomas can be reached at 541-690-8334.