Experts from various banks gathered for the Military Mortgage Assistance Fair at Fort Gordon on Tuesday. (WRDW-TV / April 10, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, April 10, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Two years ago, News 12 told you about leaders at Fort Gordon who are trying to help soldiers with financial problems. They eventually started a program to help wounded warriors with their mortgage and lending questions. On Tuesday, that program expanded to help all soldiers in our area.
Experts from various banks gathered for the Military Mortgage Assistance Fair at Fort Gordon. The goal is to help men and women, many of whom were relocated and then stuck with two mortgages or extra rent costs when they moved for the military.
As dozens of soldiers waited in line for advice, Hope Now Alliance Deputy Director Eric Selk says many are overwhelmed with mortgages, rents and refinancing options.
"When you're PCS-ing you're basically being required to move somewhere else. So you have to make a decision on your home. Try to find out what your options are. And you really don't know that until you sit down with a lender."
That's exactly what the Hope Now Alliance is trying to do. They are working with the housing program at Fort Gordon to offer free advice to soldiers, some of whom are stuck with multiple mortgages and hefty finance rates.
Fort Gordon Housing Program Director Mary Scott explained, "Many of them -- they're frustrated because they've called their lenders many times, and they feel like they've gotten the runaround. Most of our military feels there is no programs available to them, because until now there were really no programs available."
Now, Scott said, a little help can go a long way for people like Sgt. First Class Opaul Sendi. When he was relocated with the military, Sendi started paying double mortgages in Washington state and in Augusta.
"Paying mortgages over there and then paying over here was difficult. We've been trying to work with our lender to refinance it, but so far they've been rather unresponsive," he said.
Volunteers took Sendi's information and promised to get it to the right people on Tuesday.
"Hopefully, they'll be able to assist us," Sendi said. "This is such an important program to help people."
Selk said he hopes the banks can start lending a hand to the people who serve us every day.
"That's what keeps us going," Selk said. "There's this huge peace of mind and they feel so much better after they've been here today."
Scott said this is the first time a program like this has ever been put to work at a military installation. Fort Gordon pushed for the fair for a long time, and the next step is to offer this same service at Fort Jackson later this week.
The Hope Now Alliance offers hundreds of workshops every year and now say one goal is to expand to other military bases across the country.