DC homeowners can access free foreclosure prevention counseling to get help if they’re worried about paying their mortgage, are behind on their mortgage payments, or are in the process of foreclosure. A counselor will help you assess your financial situation, consider alternatives to foreclosure, and apply for assistance. Counselors may also connect you to legal assistance if your lender has already started the foreclosure process or if they identify loan fraud or predatory lending—lending that is unfair or abusive. You may receive up to five hours of free legal assistance.
This program is called the Foreclosure Prevention Program and is offered by DISB in partnership with Housing Counseling Services, a local nonprofit.
What is foreclosure?
Foreclosure is the legal process that takes place when a mortgage lender takes ownership of a property because a homeowner misses several payments on their mortgage or otherwise breaks their mortgage contract. Foreclosure can be avoided when the homeowner and lender agree to a path forward, sometimes with support from a housing counselor or other legal mechanisms.
Who is eligible for free counseling?
Anyone who owns a residential property in the District.
Do all eligible applicants receive free counseling?
What do I do first to get help?
The first step is signing up to attend a “Foreclosure Prevention Clinic” for homeowners who are concerned about foreclosure. Clinics are held weekly by Housing Counseling Services, a nonprofit in DC that provides counseling, training, advocacy, technical assistance, and housing opportunities for homebuyers, homeowners and tenants.
How do I sign-up?
Call the DC Foreclosure Prevention Hotline at (202) 265-2255, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to register for a “Foreclosure Prevention Clinic”. You can also sign-up on Housing Counseling Services’ website.
Are there any additional requirements I should know about?
No, there are no additional requirements.
What happens after I go to a “Foreclosure Prevention Clinic”?
If you still have issues after attending the clinic, you may meet with a free housing counselor for more help. The housing counselor may ask you to gather documents to help them understand your financial situation and the current status of your mortgage. They’ll let you know what they need but be ready to talk about why you are having trouble making your payments, what you’re doing to resolve the issue, and details about your financial situation.
The help you get will depend on your situation. The housing counselor may evaluate your situation, review your budget and finances, suggest possible actions you can take to improve your finances, connect you to five hours of free legal assistance, or help you apply for financial assistance.
I think I’ve been scammed. What do I do?
My lender has filed a court case against me. How can I prepare and what can I expect when I go to court?
A housing counselor can help you prepare for the court appearance and can connect you with a lawyer. You can also ask them to come to court with you to help you make decisions. There are also free counselors and lawyers available in the courtroom who can help. Reach out for help as soon as you receive notice that your lender has filed a court case.
My lender has sent me a notice to participate in mediation. Can someone help me understand the mediation process?
If your lender decides to pursue mediation, this may give you an opportunity to find options to prevent foreclosure. A housing counselor can help you complete the forms and prepare for mediation.
I still have questions. What do I do?
Please reach out to Housing Counseling Services at (202) 265-2255, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you would like to talk to someone in DC Government about the program, please reach out to the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking at (202) 442-7848, Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Or, you can email us at [email protected] using the subject line “Foreclosure.”