Mayor Bell, White House host roundtable on mortgage program - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Mayor Bell, White House host roundtable on mortgage program

Birmingham Mayor William Bell Birmingham Mayor William Bell

How can Alabama homeowners who are paying their mortgage on time but struggling to make ends meet get some relief?

It's a question the Obama administration is trying to answer and today, the White House and Mayor Bell hosted the first refinancing roundtable at City Hall.

The White House has been preaching for several years now that it's better to prevent homeowners from getting behind than trying to clean up the mess of a foreclosure and new numbers prove it.

Ninety percent of homeowners in trouble who get housing counseling are still in their homes 18 months later, but if even one home is foreclosed, it takes an average of $10,000 dollars off the value of all the homes around it.

"We want to find ways to be able to give them relief so they can continue to be homeowners and productive homeowners," Bell said.

Mayor Bell listened Thursday as White House officials outline the plans that would help homeowners with low credit scores who are still current but struggling to pay their mortgages: be able to refinance at lower interest rates to lower their payments, or help put more equity in their house and keep them in it.

"This is the best opportunity, the least-risky opportunity to keep families who are paying a mortgage right now, struggling with their spouse to do it, lower their payment. They're likely to be able to stay in that home and stabilize those communities and we're all better off," White House official Ed Jennings said.

Some local banks today said their concern is even with help, borrowers with lower credit scores are more likely to get behind on payments.

The plans are working their way through Congress now. Today's roundtable was the first of about 50 the White House plans for the next few months.

For more information, see the following websites:

Neighborhood Housing Services of Birmingham at

Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity at

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