Debt Counselors Feeling The Strain Of Subprime Meltdown

As foreclosures continue to skyrocket, debt counselors have become a last resort—sometimes the only resort—for thousands of panicked homeowners who don’t know how they’re going to keep their homes. “I don’t think people fully appreciate the pressure that’s being put on those counselor organizations today,” says a Housing and Urban Development official. In addition to offering financial advice, the counselors try to help negotiate payment plans with lenders, stave off foreclosure notices, and even offer mental health support for people so distraught that they become depressed or suicidal. The average pay: $30-50,000 a year.

Counselors have tried to keep up with the increasing demand for their services—Neighborworks, one prominent organization, trained 1,678 counselors in 2007 compared to 143 in 2004. More counselors are asking for foreclosure prevention training, and the organization is now offering stress management training as well. But the total number of financial housing counseling has remained about the same in the past several years due to limited government funding. And now, with a drastically increasing workload, organizations are worried that they won’t be able to offer competitive salaries to retain counselors at a time when they’re most needed.

“Counselors stressed out by desperate clients” [CNN Money]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. sonichghog says:

    People, If it comes to losing your home, STOP paying your credit cards. Sure your credit will suffer, but it will help youi not lose your home…..

  2. joeblevins says:

    Hell, they should be dumping thier homes as soon as the payments become too much (assuming they really shouldn’t have gotten even close to that point). They can move into an aparment with much lower costs. No one is owed a house.

  3. catnapped says:

    @joeblevins: And where is this magical place with cheap rents? Sure if they’re having to cough up several thou a month for a McMansion it might be cheaper to find an apartment, but don’t kid yourself thinking rents are free (or anywhere close)

  4. DojiStar says:

    By dumping do you mean just walk away or try and sell it.

    If it is the latter, then they are out of luck because the house is almost always worth less than they owe.

  5. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @joeblevins: Easier said than done in a lot of markets. Put your house up at the first sign of financial trouble and you could be done with the foreclosure process before anyone even comes to look at it.

  6. lincolnparadox says:

    @joeblevins: I agree 100%

    There is a point when you should really cut your losses, return to renting, and try to rebuild your credit. Nobody wants to lose their homes, but it would be better to lose your home through a sale, rather than a foreclosure.

  7. sonichghog says:

    When you lose a home your credit suffers. You will have a hard time finding a place to rent if your credit is poor.

  8. Crymson_77 says:

    @DojiStar: What would you rather happen? Would you rather sell your own home for a minimized loss? Or would you like the bank to take your home, sell it for bare minimum to keep it out of the taxable inventory column, apply the crappy price they finally sell it at to your mortgage, and THEN have a MASSIVE debt still owed? Were it me, I would sell the house and get an apartment.

  9. sonichghog says:

    @Crymson_77: If that is an option, then great.

  10. Landru says:

    I went to a debt counseling place once. It did what it was supposed to do, but most of the people who worked there were awful. The person I signed up with was professional and polite. Everybody else was rude and hostile, or bored and indifferent. It was a humiliating experience. I can only imagine that it is worse under these circumstances.

  11. Faerie says:

    *bump* to see if prior comment ever appears

  12. Faerie says:

    Ah… Comment was eaten.

    @joeblevins: Good luck with that! In most areas I’m aware of, that house will be sitting on the market longer than it would take for that foreclosure to kick in. Assuming your bank approves your short sale. Which you’d have to take a hit for on your credit anyway.

  13. azntg says:

    @sonichghog: Oddly enough, I’ve heard from other people that’s true too. Supposedly, the premises are that if you stop paying your card, the creditor will realize that you cannot afford to pay and will likely cut some sort of a deal (e.g.: % debt reduction deal, etc.) instead of simply sending it directly to collections or writing it off as a chargeoff. Just weird *shrug*

  14. mantari says:

    @catnapped: Magical place with cheap rent = Central US.