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Trying to Save the Dream « The Washington Independent

I’m heading to the Capitol Hilton in downtown Washington today, to see if some people are going to be able to ditch the odds in this rapidly worsening mortgage crisis and somehow avoid losing their homes.

For five days here, the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, or NACA, is holding a “Save the Dream of Home Ownership” event. NACA is a high-profile housing advocacy group; it called for a boycott of Countrywide Financial Corp. and organized protests at its branches last year, before reversing itself and reaching an agreement with the lender in October 2007 to help Countrywide homeowners modify their loans. NACA also has committed $1 billion of the money it wrested from Citigroup and Bank of America a few years ago, after protests and marches against the banks, to work with troubled homeowners.

Now the group is trying to prove a point with this event, which began on Saturday. It wants to show that you can restructure a lot of loans at one time, and that you can do it quickly. Homeowners are supposed to get callbacks from their lenders or servicers almost immediately, the group says. It also wants to pressure lenders to move more quickly on modifications.

When the group’s controversial CEO, Bruce Marks, struck the Countrywide agreement, he took a lot of criticism for seeming to cave in. But that was back when people still thought something could really be done about the housing crisis. Since then, there’s still no mortgage rescue plan out of Congress, and voluntary loan agreements haven’t shown themselves to be any kind of widespread solution. Some 7 out of 10 seriously delinquent borrowers aren’t taking part in any sort of modification agreement, a recent report by a group of states attorneys general found.

NACA expected to help 5,000 homeowners total; it’s already worked with about 7,800, and it’s only Tuesday, spokesman Darren Duarte said. I’ll let you know what things are like at the Hilton when I get there.

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