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Wells Fargo sets up mortgage-modification workshop for struggling borrowers

By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 12, 2010; A14

Behind long white curtains at the Baltimore Convention Center on Monday, Wells Fargo loan specialists huddled with distressed homeowners. There, Kerry Pollock found help with his mortgage after a two-hour drive from Manassas.

Pollock fell behind on his payments last year after being unemployed for more than two months while waiting to start work on a government contract. The lapse threatened his security clearance, which allows him to train Army soldiers on electronic warfare, and forced him to dip into his retirement accounts to pay bills.

Wells Fargo agreed to lower Pollock's payments by about $200 a month and extend the terms of the mortgage by a few months to make up for the delinquent amounts.

About 600 borrowers from Baltimore and the Washington region have signed up to come in for help so far, but the company hopes to attract up to 2,000.

Wells Fargo and other large lenders are under pressure from the Treasury Department to help more distressed homeowners under the government program called Making Home Affordable. Wells Fargo has helped 30 percent of its distressed borrowers enter the government program, according to Treasury data.

The event also comes as Wells Fargo faces a continuing legal battle with Baltimore officials. The city, with one of the highest foreclosure rates in Maryland, sued the lender in 2008, alleging that it had targeted minority communities with risky loans that left neighborhoods devastated by foreclosure. A district judge dismissed the suit, saying it was too broad, but Baltimore officials have said they will file an amended complaint soon.

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