Last Updated on August 19, 2009 by Paulette Brown-Hinds

Local housing advocacy organizations together with community groups, employers and area financial institutions working across the Inland Empire have partnered to establish the Housing Opportunities Collaborative of the Inland Empire (HOC-IE). Members of the HOC-IE have come together to bring focused attention to the prolonged foreclosure crisis affecting the Inland Empire. In addition to preserving homeownership, the HOC-IE will provide education and assistance to first-time homebuyers with interactive workshops to educate individuals and families on how to attain and preserve homeownership.

The HOC-IE will hold a press conference on Wednesday, August 26 at 10:00 a.m. at the Inland Empire Economic Partnership located at 1201 Research Park Drive in Riverside, announcing its mission to the Inland Empire regional community.

“We’re pleased to come together as a collective group to assist struggling homeowners and to help stabilize our community,” said Rose Mayes, chairperson of HOC-IE and also executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County.

“Our goal is to positively impact the Inland Empire and it’s struggling economy by providing education and hope to distressed homeowners to find the best solutions and to deter predators who are targeting consumers desperate to save their home,” said Mayes.
“The collaborative is designed to increase the capacity of our region’s HUD-approved counseling and homebuyer training agencies and bring better public awareness of these available services,” Mayes added.

The day-to-day activities of the HOC-IE will be managed by Thomas Coates, who has been selected as the program manager. Coates will be responsible for executing the organization’s mission of working together sharing best practices and resources to deliver comprehensive support to individuals and families in their quest for sustainable homeownership.

“The faces change, but many of the stories of foreclosure hardship are the same,” added Jed Davis treasurer and also executive director of Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services.

“We’re aware of instances on a daily basis where distressed homeowners have been taken advantage of by paying upfront fees to companies promising success for loan modifications and other workouts only to learn later that no work was performed and much damage has been done,” said Davis.

“We are pleased to host the HOC-IE’s kick off event”, said Larry Sharp, board chairman of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, and Chairman/CEO of Arrowhead Credit Union.

“We all recognize the urgent need to increase counseling and homebuyer training capacity as we continue to experience residential foreclosures, and also home buying opportunities across our region.”

The HOC-IE is comprised of a number of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, which do not charge consumers a fee for housing counseling, which also includes foreclosure prevention counseling as well as first-time homebuyer education.

In addition to Mayes, the organization’s directors and officers include, Helen Moore (secretary) and also executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire; Jed Davis (treasurer) and also executive director of Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services; Melinda Opperman (director) and also vice president of community outreach for Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management; and Al Argüello, (director) and also market manager of the California suburban/community/rural markets and Inland Empire market president for Bank of America.