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Counselors help seniors save their homes

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com
Sandi Hoover/Nevada Appeal
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People over 60 years of age facing home foreclosure in Northern Nevada may find unexpected solutions simply by talking to the right people.

Counselors from the Washoe County Senior Law Project were in Carson City on Saturday to help people save their homes.

“We are really busy in Reno, but we’re trying to reach out to local people in some of our rural areas. We know there’s a big need in Fallon and Fernley especially,” said housing counselor Cinthia Gibson.

“Sometimes the turnouts are real minimal because people are either embarrassed or they don’t see any hope, or because their property is so undervalued that think they just have to walk away,” Gibson said.

The SLP offers their services free.

“HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develop-

ment) always reminds people to never pay for anything you can get for free,” said Mayra Gutierrez, another counselor at the Saturday workshop.

Before giving up, homeowners can seek one-on-one counseling through the SLP.

“We can help people submit paperwork to request a loan modification or, where a foreclosure date has already been set, we can contact the bank to let them know the homeowner wants to keep the house, and get them to postpone the sale. The bank will usually have us submit documents right away,” Gibson said. “Sometimes they can either modify the loan or give someone more time for a short sale.”

The Senior Law Project’s lawyers and counselors can help in a number of other ways, said counselor Ben Alsasua, who said he offers two workshops to get people pointed in the right direction.

Foreclosure Prevention is offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Foreclosure Mediation is held every other Thursday. People interested in participating in either workshop should call the SLP for exact times.

Alsasua said workshops focus on providing information about loan modification programs offered by different lenders such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA. Counselors also offer guidance on how to communicate effectively with lenders.

“What we want to do is empower homeowners to navigate through the process on their own or with our help,” Alsasua said. “We can help them get their case mediated with their lender and ultimately stay in their homes or offer other graceful exit measures.”

The Senior Law Project is a non-profit law firm operated by the Washoe County Department of Senior Services.