MIAMI — Fannie Mae and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida on March 24 celebrated the first anniversary of Fannie Mae's South Florida Mortgage Help Center, the first of six opened around the nation.

Since opening its doors, the center announced it has reached out to more than 5,000 South Floridians and worked with more than 1,000 families struggling with loans owned by the agency.

Families have met one-on-one with mortgage specialists at the center to discuss their situation.  The housing advisors, who speak English, Spanish and Creole, guide them through a range of foreclosure prevention options available to them and work with mortgage servicers to ensure an efficient response time. 

“Our top priority is to ensure that struggling homeowners have access to the help they need,” said Jeff Hayward, senior vice president for Fannie Mae’ National Servicing Organization.

“More than 60 percent of customers who have worked with our advisors at the South Florida Mortgage Help Center have been able to remain in their homes and avoid foreclosure,” Hayward said.  “The mortgage help centers are an essential component of our goal to bring stability to the housing market and minimize the negative impact foreclosure has on families and communities.”

Of the 1,000 clients with whom the center has worked, more than 64 percent have been able to remain in their homes, a center statement said.  This was possible through solutions that include modifications, forbearances and repayment plans.

On average, the center staff is able to process the mortgage and give the homeowner an answer in 30 days.

“The services offered by the mortgage help center staff have provided South Florida residents with the tools they need to avoid foreclosure,” said Arden Shank, president and CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services. “The Center provides a personal experience that our residents truly value and we are excited to celebrate this important milestone in the center's history.”

Diana Dolphin is among those who have benefited from the center’s services.

“I fell behind on my mortgage last year after my salary was reduced just as I began repaying my student loans,” she said. “As a single mother, I was terrified of losing my home. The help center staff worked with me to find an affordable solution for my family and, thanks to their help, we are able to stay in our home.

“I hope that other struggling homeowners reach out to the help center so that they too can work with people they trust to help them avoid foreclosure.”

Services available at the center include reviewing mortgage loans with families who are behind on their mortgage or may be at-risk of foreclosure; discussing loan modification and other alternatives to foreclosure;  processing documentation and making timely decisions on any pending loan workout efforts.

The center staff also works to counteract fraudulent groups charging fees for modifications and foreclosure prevention services and other mortgage-related scams.

The free services offered by the center are available for families who have a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae.  Homeowners can determine if Fannie Mae owns their loan by visiting or by contacting Fannie Mae at 1-800-7FANNIE.  The center’s services are available by appointment only and those wishing to schedule a visit should call 877-208-3652.  

Homeowners who do not have loans owned by Fannie Mae may contact Neighborhood Housing Services at 305-751-5511 for assistance and advice to avoid foreclosure.