CityVision Chooses HLP to Manage Surge in Fair Housing Cases January 2017
A leading national nonprofit that helps consumers fight housing discrimination is now using HLP’s technology to improve data collection and better manage its caseload. CityVision Services, an Arlington, Texas-based nonprofit, went “live” in mid-January with
HLP’s intake portal to collect information for fair housing complaints and a case management system to manage all of its cases. These tools utilize IndiSoft’s RxOffice software.
Gary Lacefield of CityVision Services discusses how the Fair Housing Act helps families protect their rights
“We need HLP because of our growing volume of cases,” said Chief Executive Officer Gary Lacefield. “We needed a better data collection and storage system and HLP’s systems are user-friendly. For us to grow and to have unlimited capacity, HLP was the only viable option.”
CityVision handled approximately 600 fair housing complaints last year and projects new growth in 2017. Lacefield, a military veteran who served in the Korean War, has focused much of his organization’s efforts to date on helping military veterans and people with …continued on page 3
Counseling agencies feel strongly education classes can make a difference for first-time buyers Page 3
Council Kickoff Innovations and new functionality are the top priorities when our new Servicer Advisory Council meets for the first time in February Page 4
US Bank, Nationstar Now Using New HLP Post-HAMP Case Type US Bank and Nationstar Mortgage this month became the first two mortgage servicers to use HLP’s new post-HAMP “Home Retention – Loan Modification” case type. Through mid-January, 59 new foreclosure prevention cases have been submitted to US Bank using this new case type. Nationstar made the switch in mid-January, so no data was available on its use. HLP created the new case type to continue helping people file for loan modifications and other home retention options following the elimination of the Home Affordable Mortgage program. The new case type has updated data and document requirements that differ from the HAMP cases. Other servicers are currently in discussions with HLP to make the switch. Most loan servicers will continue to accept the standard “Home Retention” case until they make …continued on page 5
Gary Lacefield is president of CityVision Services, Inc., an Arlington, Texas-based nonprofit that helps individuals and families protect their housing rights under the Fair Housing Act. The organization helps consumers prepare and file complaints with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect their ability to obtain and retain housing.
How did you get involved in fighting fair housing discrimination?
three people with accounting degrees, which enables us to audit banks and mortgage companies.
I’m a military veteran who served in Korea. I started helping Vietnam veterans about three years ago when I was approached by a man who lost a leg from a mine explosion and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Our referral network is growing, so if the workload increases, I call in more professional staff so we can investigate all complaints in a timely manner.
He went to a military hospital and was assigned a pit bull as a service animal—when night terror strikes, these dogs are trained to jump on a person’s chest to calm them down. Most apartment managers won’t let a person have a pet that is 45 pounds or more. But these dogs go through training and aren’t dangerous. This vet was rejected by six or seven apartment complexes because of his service dog, so I filed a fair housing complaint to protect him.
How many fair housing complaints do you handle annually? We had about 600 complaints in 2016. In addition to helping military veterans, cases involving disability, race and gender discrimination top the list. But companies are getting smarter about the way they discriminate. They will come up with reasons that are hard to prove, such as there is no housing available or that their wait list is too long. We recently had a case where a blind person with a seeing-eye dog was denied an apartment because the property management company claimed blind people can’t live independently.
How many people are in your organization?
We have five people that handle and process complaints. I train the attorneys—we have two fraud examiners and
What are the opportunities for CityVision to grow? As we increase our education and outreach, more people realize they have choices. Many of our clients have never been homeowners, so they often don’t realize discrimination is occurring when they are denied housing. We get a lot of complaints from families with children that have physical disabilities. I recently had one family with a child that has Down’s syndrome, and once the property owner found out, they were told their apartment was no longer available. That behavior drives me crazy. Fortunately, some property management companies are beginning to realize they need to know more and are asking us for training.
You recently decided to purchase HLP’s case management system. Why? Two reasons: Our volume of cases is growing and the ease of use of HLP’s systems. In the past, we had our own system, plus third-party software, that was adequate. But as we grow, we need a better data collection and storage system. I could see handwriting on the wall that old technology wasn’t going to work for us. To grow and have unlimited capacity, HLP was the only viable option. In the end, HLP will help us help more people.
H L P M O N T H LY S U R V E Y
Counselors Say Education Classes More Important Than Down Payment Assistance Programs HUD-approved nonprofit counseling agencies feel quite strongly that their homebuyer education classes can make a significant difference for first-time buyers, according to a recent HLP counselor survey. A plurality of agencies surveyed said homebuyer education classes—which all of them provide – are more beneficial to first-time homebuyers than down payment assistance programs. The survey asked counseling agencies, “Which is more beneficial to first-time homebuyers?” Approximately 47 percent said it is homebuyer education classes; 32 percent chose down payment assistance programs and the remaining 21 percent chose one-on-one counseling. The good news, of course, is that homebuyer education classes provide plenty of information about down payment assistance programs. Among the counseling agencies participating in the survey, 100 percent said they provide such classes. These agencies said that 62 percent of state governments and 59 percent of local governments in their service areas provide some form of down payment assistance programs. Another six percent said that banks, credit unions or other organizations in their service areas also provide these programs.
…CityVision–continued from page 1
disabilities obtain housing. He finds that veterans that need service dogs and other people with disabilities often face several obstacles in their quest for housing. In the past, it used a spreadsheet for its intake process and manually logged information needed to report to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HLP’s intake portal will simplify data gathering for each complaint while the case management system will enable CityVision and the homeowner to be apprised of each complaint’s status as it works its way through HUD.
“Our portal will streamline the intake process and enable CityVision to aggregate all of its data into one platform,” said Mark Cole, HLP’s executive vice president and chief strategy officer. “It will help the organization be more efficient, enabling them to use their time to help people who need housing.” Lacefield said he expects CityVision’s caseload to expand as its growing list of partners continues to educate people about fair housing laws. HLP sees an opportunity for HUDapproved counseling organizations to play an important role in helping more consumers better understand fair housing laws. To increase awareness of these laws, HLP plans to conduct training sessions in 2017’s first quarter with counseling agencies and a wide variety of other organizations.
Final Call: 1,000 Counselors Needed to Sign Petition Asking Servicers to Use HLP HLP is wrapping up its drive to sign at least 1,000 counseling agencies to its petition asking mortgage servicers to use HLP. Now is your chance to let them know HLP’s importance to your work. To sign our petition, visit https://hlp.org/counselorpetition. The petition will let servicers know that HLP will make them more productive by transmitting any loan mod-
ification request from any counselor across the nation. HLP will enable them to process these requests more efficiently by receiving all data and documents in a safe and secure environment. With the end of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), we want all loan servicers to continue supporting counseling agencies and HLP. More than 1,100 nonprofit housing counseling agencies and 19 of the 20 largest US mortgage servicers use HLP for their home retention work. If we can get even more servicers to use HLP, we’ll all be able to help more people.
Innovations, New Functionality Top Priorities for New Servicer Advisory Council With representatives from 25 mortgage servicers ready to attend, HLP will kickoff its new Servicer Advisory Council with its initial meeting on February 27.
• Broadening the implementation of HLP’s Housing Counseling Dashboard introduced by Freddie Mac; • Bolstering regulatory compliance and increasing the consumer
The council has been assembled by HLP Chief Executive Officer
experience in the communication aspects of residential
Cam Melchiorre with the intent of addressing servicers’ needs in a
new environment for the mortgage business. The council will have three major goals: • Develop key industry-level initiatives involving HLP; • Improve the functionality of HLP’s platform; • Use HLP’s technology to drive innovation in the loss mitigation process.
The platform innovation topics include: • Security of HLP’s portal • Integrating new services and functionality that streamline the loss mitigation process while radically improving the consumer experience; • Incorporating information from regulators on HLP platform
“As the mortgage industry’s only nonprofit technology platform,
improvements to support compliance, transparency and
HLP is uniquely positioned to help drive change that can favorably
impact all servicers,” Melchiorre says. “The council will serve as a forum to help us collaborate on policy, interact with regulators and makes changes to improve both the consumer experience and the
• Updating servicers on HLP initiatives with state Housing Finance Authorities and HLP’s state foreclosure mediation project.
loss mitigation process.” Finally, Melchiorre sees the opportunity for HLP’s technology The group will meet quarterly to address how to achieve its goals.
platform to deliver important breakthroughs for servicers in loss
The industry initiatives it will address include:
mitigation, including automated asset validation technology.
• Partnering with servicers and housing counselors to implement performance-based fee structures;
…US Bank, Nationstar–continued from page 1
the transition. Until then, counselors should continue to use the existing case type; there will be no changes until a servicer makes the switch. As other mortgage servicers switch to the new case type, HLP will notify counselors when a servicer’s data and document
requirements change in our system. Before a switch occurs, counselors will still see and work the old “Home Retention” cases in your HLP dashboard. Once a switch to the new case type occurs, counselors will only be able to select the “Home Retention—Loan Modification” case type when starting a new case.
HLP wants you to know about six facts, figures and upcoming events:
1 We’re helping Easterseals, a 100-year-old national nonprofit, build a housing outreach strategy to reach the 1.4 million children and adults with disabilities that they serve annually.
2 Because security is a top priority, we completed audits with 20 different financial services companies in 2016.
3 We’re providing HLP.guru to a lease-to-purchase company, enabling their tenants to become homeowners.
e’re exploring how HLP can integrate national down payment W assistance solutions into its technology platform.
Cam Melchiorre and Mark Cole will attend the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Annual Servicing Conference on February 14-17 in Dallas.
6 We recently signed a three-year contract extension with HOSTING.com to provide the infrastructure and support for HLP’s technology platforms.
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