Frustrated Homeowners Turn to Congressional Offices for Help

LAS VEGAS -- As struggling and frustrated homeowners try to save their homes, more and more are calling or showing up at the local congressional offices looking for help.

"Hi Maria, this is Nicole from Congresswoman Shelley Berkley's office." Receptionist Nicole Wright pulls double-duty answering the phone and making calls to constituents about their home loans.

"I'm just calling to get an update on your loan with B of A. I wanted to know if you'd heard anything back from them?" Wright fields between 50 and 100 calls from concerned homeowners. Other homeowners just drop by the office.

Wright often ends up counseling those needing help. "Don't give up, everything is going to work itself out, so stay hopeful," she tells one caller.

"Somebody may contact the office because they want to do a short sale and they can't get the bank to respond. Frequently, we can help get them in contact with their lender," said Tod Story, district manager for Rep. Shelley Berkley.

Wright speaks to lenders at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and other major banks nearly everyday. Most people who call in want to stave off foreclosure.

"We will work with them work and with the lender bring them together and try to work out the best terms for both parties. We want people to stay in their house, if that's why they're contacting us to stay in their house, that's going to be our priority," Story said.

He boosts their success rate of keeping people in their homes is 75 to 80 percent. Story says agreements often break down because of financing or if the homeowner just ends up wanting to foreclose. He says it can be a long and arduous process.

Each representative's office has one staffer dedicated to taking the housing-related calls. The senate offices have more staff. Senator Harry Reid has five dedicated staffers and Senator Dean Heller has three.

 


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