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Unique partnership offers foreclosure prevention advice at the Minnesota State Fair

August 19, 2008

Unique partnership offers foreclosure prevention advice at the Minnesota State Fair

For Immediate Release: August 19, 2008

Minnesota Home Ownership Center will provide foreclosure counselors at the Department of Commerce booth each day of the State Fair.

(St. Paul, MN)  In response to the rising number of home foreclosures in the state, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is partnering with the Minnesota Home Ownership Center to provide expert foreclosure counseling each day of the State Fair.

Fairgoers will receive advice on successful home ownership and foreclosure prevention from the Center's network of community-based organizations each day from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Minnesota Department of Commerce booth in the Education building on Cosgrove Street.

Foreclosure counselors will provide information on what happens during foreclosure, homeowners' rights, tips for talking with lenders, solutions for long-term housing needs, and how to avoid scams. Participants will be able to ask advisors questions and get free advice, resources and referral services. 

"This partnership will allow us to help homeowners in the casual and approachable atmosphere of the Minnesota State Fair," said Glenn Wilson, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "If consumers are concerned about their mortgage, I encourage them to take advantage of this opportunity - no question is too big or too small."

"A booth at the State Fair is a perfect complement to the foreclosure workshops we've been hosting around the state to help people who might be falling behind in their mortgage, home equity loan or property tax payments," added Julie Gugin, Executive Director of the Minnesota Home Ownership Center.

Today's announcement adds to earlier efforts by Governor Tim Pawlenty to provide Minnesota homeowners with additional tools to prevent foreclosure including expanded foreclosure counseling workshops, creation of a compact with lenders to reduce foreclosures, and state funding for voluntary third-party mediation when counseling is unsuccessful.

In April of 2008, Governor Pawlenty announced that foreclosure prevention counseling in the state would be greatly expanded through a $4.3 million federal grant, the second-largest such grant made to any state. With the federal NeighborWorks funding, 37 additional counselors were added to the statewide counseling network, for a total of 76 counselors.  It is estimated that this will result in 7,500 foreclosures being prevented this year.

For more information about home ownership and foreclosure prevention, or to connect with a local counselor, call the Minnesota Home Ownership Center at (651) 659-9336. The Center works with a network of community-based organizations that offer free, confidential advice about mortgages and foreclosure.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce also reminds borrowers to beware of predatory lending practices. Homeowners who choose to refinance their mortgage should deal with a Minnesota licensed mortgage originator; check the department's website at www.commerce.state.mn.us to check the licensing status.  Also, call the Minnesota Department of Commerce at (651) 539-1600 or 1-800-657-3602 to report suspected mortgage fraud.

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Recognized nationally as a model of home ownership and foreclosure prevention programming, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center convenes a network of 50 community-based non-profit, government and tribal organizations to deliver home ownership education and foreclosure prevention services to households throughout Minnesota. Through its network of community partners, the Center provides 15,000 low- and moderate-income households each year with the tools they need to purchase and sustain affordable homes.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce protects consumers through the licensing and regulation of over 20 industries including real estate, mortgage, insurance, securities, state chartered banks, credit unions, and finance companies.

Contacts:       Julie Gugin, Home Ownership Center (651) 659-9336