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RurAL CAP Launches Default Avoidance/Foreclosure Prevention Program

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc. (RurAL CAP) has launched an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded program to help Alaskans who are struggling to manage mortgages, rent, loans, credit card debt, and at risk of losing their home. A Web site (www.housinghelpnowalaska.org) has been developed to provide basic information on the foreclosure process, predatory lending practices, rescue scams and tenant's rights. A hotline phone number, 1-888-643-5725, offers free credit counseling and legal assistance.

Families around the nation are feeling the pinch of the current economic climate. Homeowners who purchased their homes at the height of the market may find themselves with mortgages that exceed the current value of the property, or loans that accelerate their interest rate and payments. Coupled with shrinking incomes, it can be a recipe for personal financial disaster that often starts with missing a single credit card payment. Although Alaska has not seen the dramatic employment losses and real estate downturn that is taking place in other states, default and foreclosure rates are inching higher, indicating that Alaskan families are not immune from the effects of the recession.

Through RurAL CAP, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Alaska and Alaska Legal Services Corporation are offering free financial and legal counsel to Alaskans. When Alaskans call the hotline or request information via the website, an Alaska Legal Services Corporation representative will determine if individuals need financial or legal counseling and route them accordingly. There is an income requirement to qualify for the counseling services.

Mitzi Barker, RurAL CAP's Rural Housing & Planning Division Director, says, "Potential clients are people who are in the throes of foreclosure, or who are finding themselves in a financial situation that may lead to default on any consumer credit, mortgage credit, or rent." Funding for this project has been provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

RurAL CAP, a statewide, 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, has been working to improve the quality of life for low-income Alaskans since 1965. RurAL CAP employed more than 700 people in 2008 with expenditures of over $21 million. It provides resources and services to enhance child and family development, improve housing, reduce energy costs, develop leadership, protect traditional uses of fish and game, promote environmental responsiveness, support health and wellness, develop and assist with community plans, and foster independent living.

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