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January 01 2009

Operation HOPE Mission to Deliver Practical Financial Literacy Focuses on Saving Homes

Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline helps subprime mortgage holders find solutions to looming foreclosure

LOS ANGELES, CA--(February 17, 2009) - In an effort to save homeownership and the American dream during a time of crisis for many mortgage holders, Operation HOPE (HOPE) has fielded nearly 54,977 calls for assistance, saving 680 foreclosures through loan modification, refinance or no action agreements totaling more than $201 million in challenged mortgages through its Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline (MHCH).

Since the hotline began in April 2007, an average of 4,848 active client files have been maintained, with 1,886 clients receiving foreclosure prevention counseling. HOPE continues to work open client files daily. Trained intake staff assigns each client a dedicated HOPE mortgage counselor and in some cases a Virtual HOPE Corps volunteer, who works with the client until the loan is modified or another outcome has been reached. Collaborative efforts by all segments of the financial services industry, government agencies and community organizations have helped provide solutions to the growing problem.

Many homeowners face overwhelming challenges as their interest rate and monthly payments have increased. Homeowners with mortgage challenges can call the MHCH at 888-388-HOPE (4673) for free services including:

-- How to negotiate with your lender
-- How to apply for loan modifications
-- How to avoid foreclosure
-- How to sell a house and purchase an affordable home
-- How to restructure your existing debt and obligations

As mortgage rates began to adjust in 2006, the Operation HOPE Banking Center homeownership counselors noticed a marked increase in clients' concerns over being able to make mortgage payments. These realities prompted HOPE to focus on finding a solution to help homeowners saddled with adjustable and payment option mortgages.

"Our goal is to maximize the preservation of homeownership while minimizing foreclosures and assist borrowers who have the willingness and wherewithal to remain in their homes. The MHCH has played a key role to accomplish just that," noted HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant, who also serves as vice chairman of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, and chairman of the Council Committee on the Under-Served. "Making financial services that help people help themselves is all a part of our 'silver rights' mission to empower the under-served, and now with this crisis, even America's middle class. As Americans recover from the mortgage meltdown, financial literacy is more important than ever."

Under the current direction of Alix Stayton, HOPE Coalition America director, the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline is supported by two call-centers and is available to handle intake calls 24-hours a day. The MHCH is managed by HOPE's financial emergency planning and recovery division, HOPE Coalition America, and facilitated through the HOPE Banking Center Network. Calls to the MHCH have increased from almost 3,000 calls in November 2008, to more than 11,000 calls in January 2009.

The MHCH maintains a collaborative relationship with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), and has made it possible for homeowners to obtain invaluable information and guidance about foreclosure for any state. Trained foreclosure prevention counselors, including HOPE employees and professionals from the mortgage industry, are helping homeowners establish a realistic monthly budget, negotiate payments consistent with their ability to pay, or help them through the home downsizing process.

HOPE Partners in support of the Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline include Bank of America, HSBC, US Bank, Wells Fargo, State Bank of India, First American, Washington Mutual, the RCAC and special media partner Premiere Radio Networks which has greatly assisted HOPE's effort to get the word out about its services for those in need.

Mortgage holders facing foreclosure should call the MHCH at 888-388-HOPE (4673) for help and more information.