Active-duty military and retirees got a chance Tuesday at Fort Gordon to skip the hold music and talk face-to-face with their bank lenders.
The Army’s first mortgage assistance program brought together seven creditors with service members looking for better interest rates or some advice about selling the house left behind after a transfer to Augusta.
“It cuts through a lot of red tape,” said Cedrick Warren, a loan service representative with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The event was the culmination of three years of behind-the-scenes work by Mary Scott, Fort Gordon’s housing program director. Scott said she was inspired by an Army major who couldn’t sell his house after orders forced him to move. There were several mortgage relief programs offered by banks, but they were reserved for people behind on their payments and without resources to pay their notes.
There were no solutions for people like the major, who were current on their payments and didn’t want to hurt their credit, she said.
“His story really motivated me to keep pushing,” Scott said.
Waiting near the front of the line was Spc. Melvin Sims, a lab technician, who pays rent in Augusta plus a mortgage payment on his first home in Columbia. He was there to find a way to lower his interest rate.
“I want to check out the pros and cons,” he said.
Brad Dwin, the director of communications for Hope Now, a homeowner support group, has traveled around the country for similar events, but this was his first time on a military installation. About a quarter of attendees walk away with an immediate solution, but all get a better picture of their available options, he said.
“It gives homeowners some hope,” he said.