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CUs try to stem tide of homeowner walkaways
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (3/12/08)--Credit unions may see an increase in the number of members whose mortgages are "upside down," meaning they owe more on the house than the house is worth. And some delinquent members may be tempted to give up on paying their mortgage. California is one of the states hit hardest by the crisis in financing homes, and it is starting to experience "walkaways," people who stop paying the mortgage and hand over the keys without being foreclosed (USA Today March 11). Credit unions are trying to help borrowers weather the downturn, according to The Sacramento Bee (March 10), despite the number of businesses cropping up that advise borrowers how to walk away from the mortgage. One such credit union is SAFE CU, based in North Highlands, Calif. Paul Rigdon, vice president, told the Bee the $1.345 billion asset credit union had no foreclosures by its members until 2007. Since the housing crisis began, it has had two borrowers walk from their mortgage payments and others have hinted they might do the same. Rigdon tries to persuade potential walkaways to hang on because giving up will affect their credit for some time. "We don't want to take their homes," he said. "With the market the way it is, foreclosures are in nobody's best interest," he said in the article. Another California credit union, The Golden 1 CU, based in Sacramento, is launching a $20 million program to help those who have lost their homes get into another one and to rebuild their credit, said the Bee. CEO Theresa Halleck told the newspaper the people who are victims and have lost their home in the past 18 months can apply for mortgage repair loans with fixed rates and a 30-year maximum term. Borrowers who use the loans cannot make a second mortgage for two years, to avoid accruing high debt loads, and they must enroll in debt counseling.
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