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Foreclosure hotline looks for help

Overwhelmed with calls, one agency that tries to help people keep their homes is putting up a help wanted sign.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A month after the Bush Administration announced a plan to help troubled homeowners, one foreclosure counseling agency is looking for some help of its own.

"[We have] plans to hire new managers, counselors and customer service reps to handle increased demand for our services," said Scott Scredon, Director of Public Relations for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta. CCCS plans to hire about 130 new staff members.

"Just more than 400,000 people utilized CCCS of Greater Atlanta in 2007, but we project there will be more than 600,000 this year," he said. "Of course, the largest demand is for counselors to help people avoid foreclosure."

In a plan to help over one million Americans facing foreclosure on their homes, the Bush Administration unveiled a foreclosure relief plan in December, which included a five-year freeze of interest rates for borrowers current with their monthly payments. The plan was intended to streamline the mortgage modification process for many distressed borrowers.

As part of the plan, homeowners facing foreclosure were pointed to the Hope Now Alliance - a coalition of nonprofits, lenders, and investors, of which CCCS is a part. After the plan was announced, calls into the HOPE hotline skyrocketed, according to Homeownership Preservation Foundation.

The foundation, which runs the hotline, said it handles about 1,500 calls per day with jumps of up to 3,000 per day after major media coverage.

Scredon said that since the rate freeze, CCCS has received such a large increase in calls, that it had to limit its services only to customers who were delinquent on their mortgage payments, referring other customers who were not delinquent to their own lenders.

According to Scredon, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation refers clients in all 50 states to CCCS of Greater Atlanta, which has 18 offices in four states. Approximately 45 of the new positions are for housing managers and counselors.

CCCS and five other non-profit mortgage foreclosure counseling agencies provide services through a the 24-hour Hope Now Alliance hotline (1-888-995-HOPE). The hotline provides homeowners with over-the-phone foreclosure-prevention counseling. To top of page

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