Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

Introducing RealPad

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More



Contests and



Military and Veterans Discount




Popular Articles



Program to Help Avoid Foreclosure

Program offering guidance to homeowners in trouble is extended through rest of 2011

About two-thirds of HUD-certified housing counselor Dee Rains’ clients have been referred to her by the AARP Foundation’s Foreclosure Prevention Program.

About two-thirds of HUD-certified housing counselor Dee Rains’ clients have been referred to her by the AARP Foundation’s Foreclosure Prevention Program. — Jason Millstein/Aurora Select

Dee Rains keeps a bulletin board above her desk covered with thank-you notes from the Arizonans whose homes she has helped to save.

See also: Reverse mortgages: an alternative to foreclosure.

The happy missives keep Rains, a HUD-certified counselor for the nonprofit Administration of Resources and Choices in Phoenix, from getting emotionally drained by the more numerous unhappy endings. Of the many homeowners she helps try to arrange lower loan payments, about one in four succeed.

The moral support she provides is just as critical as her experience. "For most people, it is just knowing that they aren't in the process all by themselves," she said.

About two-thirds of her clients are referred from the AARP Foundation's federally funded Foreclosure Prevention Program, which operates in Arizona and Nevada. Now in its second year, the program refers financially strapped older homeowners to HUD-certified counselors who can help them renegotiate loan payments and stay in their homes.

Since 2010, the program has provided information and referrals to 50,000 older homeowners in Arizona and Nevada, said Robin Bowman, AARP Foundation program specialist. Nevada leads the nation in foreclosures, followed by Arizona, according to RealtyTrac. In April, one in every 205 Arizona properties had a foreclosure filing.

A bulletin board behind Dee Rains' desk is covered with thank you notes and drawings of appreciation from clients she has helped with their mortgage concerns.

A bulletin board behind Dee Rains' desk is covered with thank you notes. — Jason Millstein/Aurora Select

One of the notes above Rains' desk is from Peggy Schmidt of Gilbert, whose 7-year-old adopted son will not have to leave the only real home he has ever known, thanks to Rains. Schmidt is a single, 63-year-old senior executive assistant to a dean at Arizona State University. She got behind on her mortgage when state budget cuts forced her to take 12 days of unpaid furlough.

For more than a year, she tried to get her home loan payment reduced. "Every time I'd call, I'd get a different person," she said.

Finally, she was informed that she made too much money for one home modification program. After reading about the foreclosure prevention program in an article in the AARP Bulletin, Schmidt contacted Rains, who revised the application. Eventually, Schmidt's payment was reduced by $282 a month — enough to make it feasible.

Another note on Rains' bulletin board is from Robert and Debra Hesler, of Phoenix, a couple in their mid-50s. Both have medical problems that prevent them from working, and they live on less than $1,000 a month. Rains helped them avoid foreclosure on the home they've lived in since 1992 by getting their payments cut by more than half, from $772 to $346.

"If you really want to stay in your home, fight for it," Debra said. The couple recommends getting help.

"Without Dee's help, it wouldn't have happened," Robert said. "We needed an advocate."

Next: AARP Arizona conducts tele-town halls. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Member Benefits Discounts Angie's List

Members can save 25% to 45% on their Angie's List membership.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.


Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points