Clayton News-Star

Nonprofit offers help for struggling Johnston County homeowners

Homeowners in Johnston County have a new option in the fight to hold on to their homes. The North Carolina Attorney General’s initiative under the National Mortgage Settlement offers help for borrowers who are facing foreclosure.

The agency is one of 47 that will share $13 million in settlement funds. This strengthens their ability to offer free help to home buyers and owners, especially those facing foreclosure. The funding awards are managed by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action, Inc., serves Johnston, Lee, and Harnett counties, according to E. Marie Watson, Executive Director.

Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action offers guidance to borrowers who may be eligible for financial payments under the National Mortgage Settlement, helps homeowners work with services to seek loan modifications and counsels them on their options to avoid foreclosure, according to Watson.

This organization can also help eligible homeowners who have lost their jobs apply for loans from the N.C. Prevention Fund. Loans allow borrowers to make mortgage payments while they look for work or train for new employment. The N.C. Housing Finance Agency offers these zero-interest loans using funds from the U.S. Treasury. And, the loans are considered satisfied after the homeowner has continued to live in their home for 10 years.

Watson also offers helpful tips for homeowners who are facing foreclosure:

•  Don’t wait too long, she advises. The earlier a homeowner seeks help, the more and better options they have for saving their home. Open and respond to all mail from their lenders and from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

•  Talk to a legal services attorney if you have already received a foreclosure notice. North Carolina has a network of legal aid attorneys that provide help at low or no cost.

•  Even if the home has already been foreclosed homeowners may still be eligible for restitution under the National Mortgage Settlement if their loan was originated or services by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase or Wells Fargo. Find information at


•  Avoid foreclosure prevention companies and foreclosure recovery scams. Be sure to read and understand the terms of all documents, never appoint a foreclosure prevention company to act on your behalf and get professional advice from an attorney, a real estate professional or a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. Homeowners who believe they were a victim of a foreclosure recovery scam should call the N.C. Attorney General’s office at 877-566-7226.

For more information or to make an appointment with a counselor, visit the Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action office, 1102 Massey Street, Smithfield, or call 919-934-2145.