Homeowner Wayne M. has counseled many families looking for the American Dream – and those living through a real-life nightmare.
It’s been more the latter in recent years, as hard-hit homeowners struggle with their mortgage payments and try to fend off foreclosure. Many cash-strapped homeowners ask for help months after they get behind on their mortgage and have received multiple late payment notices from their servicer.
“Some people are very reluctant” to ask for help, says Wayne, a homeownership counselor for Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County. “You ignore the problem; you think it will go away. You just try to forget about it.”
But it doesn’t. Just ask Wayne.
His full-time job is to help homeowners apply for government assistance programs such as Keep Your Home California. Wayne is also a client of the state-run program. He was recently approved for the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, which offers as much as $25,000 to help homeowners catch up on their mortgage payments.
“Just a little tweak and you can get people back to normal,” he says. “The little tweak really helped me out.”
Now, the Los Angeles County homeowner is back on track with his mortgage payments and his financial footing.
“Basically, it bought me some time … gave me some breathing room,” says Wayne, who is married and has three children. “I talk it up at events, even when I’m in the grocery store. I’m not only a counselor, but a client.”
His firsthand experience helps homeowners interested in the program.
“They’re a lot more receptive” when they learn of his participation in the federally funded program. “They see that you really have their interest and you know their situation.”
But he says more homeowners need to look into the program.
“It doesn’t make sense for people not to try and for banks not to participate,” Wayne says. “It can work for so many people.”