Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), together with the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR), part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, has launched a new website and awareness campaign to support struggling homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The state agencies worked in partnership with Oregon Consumer Justice (OCJ) to develop www.oregonhomeownerhelp.org as a central hub for foreclosure prevention resources.
The mortgage foreclosure moratorium in Oregon expired in December 2021. With rising inflation, many households that are having trouble keeping up with living expenses may be at risk of missing a mortgage payment. Some Oregonians are not aware there may be ways to avoid foreclosure.
“We want homeowners who have fallen behind or are at risk of missing a mortgage payment to know they may have options,” said Emese Perfecto, director of the Homeownership Division at OHCS. “It can be overwhelming to receive a letter from a mortgage company. You are not alone. This website, which highlights certified housing counselors as a key resource, can help them find the best way to move forward.”
The emphasis of the awareness campaign is to direct homeowners who are worried about being able to make their mortgage payment, or who have received a foreclosure letter from their servicer, to do one of two things:
- Call 211 to be put into contact with certified housing counselors at one of the many homeownership centers throughout the state.
- Visit www.oregonhomeownerhelp.org for more information.
“Housing counselors can advocate on your behalf with your mortgage servicer,” said Andrew Stolfi, director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “If you get a call or a letter from your mortgage servicer, contact a homeownership center right away. The earlier you reach out for help, the more options you will have.”
In addition to housing counseling services, the website can also help homeowners avoid falling victim to fraud and connect them with legal assistance.
“As the attention on foreclosures increases, so will the foreclosure-related scams. It’s important for homeowners to be on the lookout and avoid falling victim,” said Ellen M. Klem, director of Outreach and Education for the Oregon Attorney General. “The new website and awareness campaign will provide Oregonians with the information they need to stay safe from fraud during this challenging time.”
If a homeowner has provided that information to a scammer and believes they are a victim of a scam, they should do the following:
- File a police report to document the crime for their creditors. Make sure they get the report number and a copy.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-438-4338 (toll-free) or at www.ftc.gov.
- Call their creditors such as their bank or credit union, credit card company, cell phone provider and other utilities, and their health insurance provider.
- File a complaint with the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation or call 888-877-4894 (toll-free).
“We know that during the subprime scandal, thousands of Oregonians were targeted by scammers with a disproportionate impact on communities of color,” said Jagjit Nagra, executive director at OCJ. “Many families were displaced and have yet to recover. We want to work hard to prevent people from losing their homes due to scams.”
For more information, visit www.oregonhomeownerhelp.org or call 211 to be connected to a housing counselor that serves your area.