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Mortgage help available for residents

Express help is on the way for area residents needing homemortgage and financial assistance related to Hurricane Katrina.

In a partnership with the AJFC Community Action Agency, Inc. ofsouthwest Mississippi, the Freddie Mac HomeHelp Express will be atthe Natchez Community Center May 3 and in Monticello at FirstBaptist Church May 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The HomeHelp Express is a 40-foot mobile information center with 14computer stations equipped with the latest in satellite andcomputer technology and staffed by trained consumer counselors fromstate and local nonprofit organizations.

Counselors with the Express can assist visitors with one-on-onemortgage or insurance counseling; access to online tools, such asthe nation’s top mortgage lenders; information about propertyinsurance, mortgage relief, predatory lending and governmentassistance for storm victims; and information about assistance fromlocal community-based organizations.

“The bus has been on the Gulf Coast since Katrina hit, but nowthey’re trying to expand out into other areas affected by thestorm,” said Fannie Brown, a counselor with the AJFC.

Craig Nickerson, a Freddie Mac vice president, said there isassistance for many people, but they don’t know how to accessit.

“Our goal is to help borrowers get the information they need tosecure genuine relief for themselves and their families,” he said.”For example, we have given the lenders who service our mortgagesthe authority to reduce or suspend mortgage payments for a total of12 months on a case-by-case basis.”

Brown said the HomeHelp Express will return at a later date tovisit Brookhaven.

“We couldn’t get a location in time for Brookhaven so we’ll have tobacktrack and do Brookhaven later,” she said.

Volunteers representing local agencies assisting in hurricanerelief are welcome to join them at those locations, Brown said. Sherequests representatives register with her by calling (601)442-8681.

Freddie Mac, one of the nation’s largest mortgage investors,developed the HomeHelp Express along with an alliance of non-profitorganizations.