Hundreds line up in Atlanta for mortgage help

As posted on January 10, 2012 on www.ajc.com

By John Spink

Hundreds of people lined up outside the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta early Tuesday morning in hopes of getting help paying their mortgages.

The American Dream Convention, sponsored by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, featured 500 counselors to help homeowners who are having trouble making their mortgage payments.

Darren Duarte is director of communications for NACA, which is "nonprofit advocacy, HUD-certified counseling agency," according to its website. He said the event aims at "helping homeowners who have mortgages that are unaffordable, helping make them affordable. We have all the major lenders and investors here to do that."

He said people who are looking to buy a home can also find help at the six-day event, which runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sunday.

"We're doing pre-approval of mortgages on site," he said. "So people are able to come here and finance a new home and come here and save their current home."

He said more than 6,500 people have registered so far.

Adina Gurbutwal from Fairfax, Va., drove 10 hours to attend Tuesday's event, arriving at 9 p.m. Monday.

"I came for my home, to save it. I bought it at a bad time ... and now it's very hard to keep up with my mortgage and now I'm behind. I've been fighting my lender for three years, and finally I made a decision this year I have to do something," she said. "I came here with some hope because things have not been working. I have a job but I'm not making the money that I used to make ... things are upside down."

Barbara Alexander flew in from Ontario, Calif.

"I didn't want to wait for [the event in] San Bernardino [so] I caught the next thing smoking. I need help," said Alexander, a registered nurse.

"I'm in default, and I have a hardship with a decrease in my income ... and I can't meet my budget."

"I'm going to leave Atlanta with a principal reduction ... so that I'm not upside down or top-heavy -- that I can live comfortable and still make my mortgage ... I'm not trying to get anything for nothing."

Homeowners are required to bring certain documentation -- outlined on the NACA website -- to qualify for help. "It's based on affordability," Duarte said. "If your mortgage is unaffordable and we can document and verify that, there's a good chance we can lower your rate."