The Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs will offer expanded one-on-one foreclosure prevention counseling and education to Evanston residents.

Interfaith, a HUD-certified non-profit fair housing and housing counseling agency, has received a $25,000 grant from the city to assist at least 75 Evanston residents at risk of mortgage foreclosure, and educate at least 170 Evanston homeowners on how to prevent loans from becoming delinquent and avoiding fraudulent lenders or servicers.

Evanston residents worried about paying their mortgage loan or going into foreclosure can now meet with Interfaith staff for free, confidential counseling at the Civic Center on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Residents should call Interfaith at 847-501-5760 to schedule an appointment.

The number of foreclosures in Evanston more than tripled between 2005 and 2009, increasing from 96 in 2005 to 336 in 2009, according to Woodstock Institute reports. Interfaith worked with Evanston agencies to create an “Evanston Home Preservation Task Force” to coordinate services to residents, many of whom were reluctant to come forward to seek help.

Interfaith’s foreclosure prevention counselors assist homeowners in gathering the proper documentation for possible loan modification, submit the documents on behalf of the homeowner, follow up with the lender regarding the loan modification request and inform the homeowner of steps to take to stay proactive. Interfaith also maintains its office in Winnetka, open 9-5, Monday through Friday.

In addition to individual counseling, Interfaith will hold community forums on communicating effectively with lenders, completing loan modification forms, avoiding mortgage rescue scams, and how to spot predatory lending. Forums will also provide information on federal programs and on Energy Star products.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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