By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s some good news for homeowners who are facing financial hardships and struggling to meet their mortgage payments. A new mortgage help center opened today in our area. As 3-On Your Side’s Jim Donovan reports, it’s the first center of its kind in the northeastern part of the country.

Located right across from the Franklin Mills Mall, the center will allow anyone with a Fannie Mae-backed mortgage to get face-to-face counseling. The goal is to help borrowers understand what options they have in keeping their homes.

It’s been a tough two years for Elva Daniels of West Oak Lane. She says, “I’ve been unemployed since October of 2009 and now I’m just going back to work.”

While out of work, Elva got behind in her mortgage, causing many sleepless nights as she tried to provide for her family. She says, “That’s my main goal, to have a roof over their head.”

Many homeowners in our area can relate to Elva. According to Mike Williams, CEO of Fannie Mae, “Last year one in every 65 homes in the Philadelphia, Camden, Wilmington area received a foreclosure notice.”

Watch the video…

This morning, it was standing room only as Williams helped open a mortgage help center in Northeast Philadelphia. Located at 399 Franklin Mills Circle, it’s just one of 9 Fannie Mae centers in the nation offering face-to-face housing counseling to homeowners with a Fannie Mae backed mortgage.

Williams says customers aren’t comfortable talking about their financial matters over the phone. He says, “They want to bring their papers in, they want to talk about their options, so having a face to face conversation really makes a substantive difference in their ability to get a solution.”

So who will be staffing the center? Patty Hasson of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley says, “They are going to be talking to Consumer Credit Counseling Service counselors. So they are going to be talking to people who have been in this region for more than 40 years who care about this community, and who want to help them find a solution to stay in their home.”

To arrange for a face-to-face counseling session at the Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Center, you will need to call for an appointment. The number to call is 866-442-8570.

If you are wondering if you have a Fannie Mae mortgage, you can do a quick search here.

Or to use an interactive tool that can walk you through the various mortgage-help options that may be available to you, click here.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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