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Mortgage Bankers announce new phlianthropic venture

By: 18 October 2011 No Comment

The national Mortgage Bankers Association – at its annual convention in early October in Chicago – announced it was rolling out a program to eventually help families struggling with making their house payments.

The model for the new initiative is Spare Key, a Minnesota-based charity that was started in 1997 to award mortgage grants to families with critically ill children. The idea, of course, is to cover the mortgages for those families for a time so they families can take off from work and do whatever else is necessary to spend time with their children through treatment and recovery.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, Spare Key has helped 1,300 families in Minnesota meet their mortgage payments. Using Spare Key as a guide, the Mortgage Bankers Association has donated $50,000 to set up three pilot programs – the first of those will be in the Washington, D.C. area and the overall goal is to establish the initiative throughout the nation and help millions of families in need.

In addition to the $50,000 the Association has pledged, the group has asked its members to contribute to the effort.

When could the program reach Arkansas? Of course, that remains to be seen. The Association announced the initiative on Oct. 10 and revealed that it plans to set up national chapters that will follow tenets and guidelines that are still being written.

The success of all those chapters will rely on local support. The Association pointed out Spare Key was successful in Minnesota thanks to the financial support of mortgage bankers and associations in that area. Without that local support and leadership, altruistic programs such as Spare Key tend to fail. The Association may be national in scope, but achieving success through programs designed to benefit families and communities relies on help from the individuals and organizations in those areas.

One thing that is very significant about the Association’s announcement is the notion that the group feels compelled to help people who are struggling through difficult financial times. As we’ve seen from monthly reports and heard from other sources, foreclosures remain a major problem in the nation.

How is that problem to be combated? The federal government and private groups are struggling to answer that question and have been for some time. In that context, the Spare Key initiative may appear to address only part of the problem, but it is part of a larger effort.

Indeed, we’ve seen the federal government’s efforts such as the Making Home Affordable plan advanced as a solution to the problem. Banks have responded by putting private relief efforts in place and by tightening lending requirements so that only those people who will likely follow through on their mortgage obligations can take out loans and purchase houses.

The Spare Key initiative, then, is another in a line of initiatives designed to help people who are struggling with mortgages. How many more programs are to follow remains to be seen.

Home Sweet Home is written by Ethan C. Nobles and is sent weekly to publications throughout the Natural State on behalf of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Arkansas.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =

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