Borrowers who received foreclosure counseling through a national program were twice as likely to receive a modification, according to a study released Monday.
The Urban Institute evaluated roughly 800,000 homeowners who took help from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program from January 2008 through December 2009. NeighborWorks America administers the program with federal funds. 
The counselors are approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They work on homeowner budgets and guide borrowers through the various options provided by the mortgage servicer to avoid foreclosure. 
Those who went through the program were at least 67% more likely to remain current within nine months of receiving a modification, according to the study. Borrowers who went through the program had their payment reduced by an average of $176 per month. 
Congress slashed funding for HUD housing counseling programs earlier in the year. The administration and the mortgage industry called for lawmakers to restore the money because of the more than 5 million homeowners who are at least 30 days delinquent, according to Lender Processing Services
In November, Washington restored some of the money, and HUD was allowed to grant $40 million to counselors. 
Eileen Fitzgerald, CEO of NeighborWorks America, said the program and others like it help homeowners and servicers alike by reducing redefaults. 
“In short, the personalized work nonprofit housing counselors do to help homeowners improve their overall financial situation had the greatest effect on a homeowner not falling behind again on their mortgages in the future,” Fitzgerald said.
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