News 4 On Your Side: Frustrated homeowners say relief program is falling short

Roger Truman and his partner Charles Edward struggled to keep their home in Red Rock after each of them lost their jobs when the economy slumped.

They applied and were accepted into Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund, a federally funded program which provides up to $1,000 in monthly mortgage payments for people who lose their jobs or are considered underemployed.

"It was a godsend when we were accepted," Truman told News 4.

What Roger and Charles did not know is Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund has been plagued by organizational problems and mismanagement.
News 4 has learned a recent audit by the U.S. Treasury Department turned up dozens of "red-flags." And a spokesperson for Senator Harry Reid confirmed to us "There have been significant issues with management of money," at Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund.

For Roger and Charles the problems began when their mortgage was transferred from Bank of America to Green Tree, a company out of Idaho.

Green Tree soon informed them they had not received mortgage payments from Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund for the months of June and July.

Roger and Charles were right back where they started: Facing the prospect of losing their home.

"We received a notice of default basically telling us they are going to start foreclosure because the payments weren't being made," Truman said.

So News 4 contacted Rob Skinner, the new executive director at Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund. Where were the payments that were supposed to made to Roger and Charles' new mortgage company, Green Tree, for the months of June and July?

Skinner insisted during our interview that his agency had made the payments.

"I seriously doubt the payment was not made. That would be incredible," Skinner told us.

Incredible ? Or simply fact ? a voice message on Roger's phone from a representative at Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund confirmed the payments had not been made.
Here's what the message said:

"This is Eva from Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund, I just wanted to let you know we are waiting to get a record back for your new servicer. We can't send the payment without it."

For Roger and Charles, it was more frustration.

"I feel like i'm getting the runaround every time I call," Roger told us.

So again, we asked Rob Skinner at Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund to explain. And we told him about the voice message.

"I don't know what to say. We might not have had the most recent information," Skinner said.

But Skinner also admitted this is a common problem they're working to address. And he says many homeowners can fall through the cracks through no fault of their own. Even after they are accepted into Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund.

"It happens every month. We deal with it every month. Out of 1500 files we could have 200 of those. It's a common area where you could get tripped up," Skinner said.

The good news is, after we got involved those payments were eventually made and Roger and Charles are now back in good standing as of September 5th.

But we're left to wonder how many other people might experience the same kind of frustration, as a progam designed to help Nevada's hardest hit homeowners is still working to overcome it's own challenges.

After our interview I received a message from Rob Skinner at Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund.
He says he looked into Mr. Truman's file and there was an issue. The issue was one of several like this that drove them to update their procedures so they can communicate more directly with lenders to avoid these issues. And he wanted to thank News 4 for bringing this to his attention.

So hopefully our story has helped to shine a light on this issue so that the program can be more effective in helping homeowners. And it's a good reminder that here at News 4 we are on your side, here to help with any problems or concerns you may experience.
In the meantime if you're interested in applying to the program for mortgage

assistance, you can find information about Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund here.