Mortgage Aid Goes On Tour, Minus Star Player

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This weekend, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America brought its "Save the Dream" tour to Washington D.C. With lenders by its side, the group helps homeowners modify their mortgages to the point that they're affordable. But one major bank is no longer part of the "Dream."


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Liane Hansen.

This weekend, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, or NACA, brought its "Save the Dream" tour to the convention center here in Washington D.C. With lenders by its side, the group helps homeowners modify their mortgages to the point that they're affordable.

But as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, one major bank has left the tour.

TAMARA KEITH: There are hundreds of tables set up in the convention center. Bank representatives and homeowners sit face-to-face. They're sorting through paperwork, talking about income and interest rates. And in some cases, they're able to settle on new loan terms right there. When that happens, the homeowners go up to a podium in the center of the room.

Unidentified Woman: All right, all right. NACA, NACA, we have another great testimony on the stage, coming from Bank of America.

KEITH: Edith Lomtake(ph) grabs the microphone to tell her story.

Ms. EDITH LOMTAKE: My rate was 7.8. It was reduced down to 3.75, and so Im very, very happy.

(Soundbite of applause)

KEITH: But you won't hear any testimonials like this from Chase customers. Earlier this year, the bank stopped coming to NACA events. Instead, Chase sets up shop in nearby hotels wherever NACA goes. It's sort of a shadow tour. The reasons aren't entirely clear.

Bruce Marks is CEO of NACA.

Mr. BRUCE MARKS (CEO, Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America): They ended up leaving, you know. And they dont like it that we go and we storm their corporate offices. And they dont like it that we take over their annual meetings. They dont like that, that we hold them personally responsible for the devastation that they're causing.

KEITH: It's safe to say there's no love lost between Chase and the often-combative NACA.

At a hotel less than a mile away, about 50 Chase employees talked to customers about their loans. April Brown is one of those customers. She got a ride over in a NACA shuttle.

Ms. APRIL BROWN: I've been going through this since 2008 and trying to get answers, trying to get things resituated and resolved. And Im hoping today that a solution will come out of it, by me being here face-to-face.

KEITH: A bank employee promises she'll hear something within 72 hours.

Tom Kelly, a Chase spokesman, says the bank doesnt do the flashy, same-day solutions you'd see at a NACA event. He says they want to make the right decisions, and that can take time. Kelly says holding a separate event is better for Chase and its customers.

Mr. TOM KELLY (Spokesman, Chase Bank): We can get them in and out very quickly. It's a very streamlined, simple process. We think it works well for our customers.

KEITH: For both NACA and Chase, this stop on the tour lasts through the end of the week.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington.

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