SAINT PAUL, Minn. (3/30/09)--As foreclosures and their consequences continue to spread across the state and the nation, the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) has teamed up with the Minnesota Home Ownership Center to provide credit unions access to a certified network of foreclosure counselors to help struggling members. Through this network, counseling agencies are available in every county in the state. While Minnesota credit unions have been proactively working to assist members who encounter hard times, this relationship with the center gives credit unions another tool to have at their disposal. Credit unions can refer members who are facing the threat of foreclosure to a Home Ownership Center-certified counselor, all of whom provide free services. “Preventing foreclosures through counseling is a small fraction of the cost compared with the overall cost to families, neighborhoods and communities,” said Ed Nelson from the center. “This program helps all Minnesotans. Every time a foreclosure is prevented, everybody wins--and even if the foreclosure can’t be avoided, Minnesota families will be in a better position going forward for having worked with one of our counselors.” The number of Minnesota homes lost to foreclosure in 2008 was 26,265, a 29% increase over 2007, according to a report published by the center, The Family Housing Fund and The Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. Through its network of local providers, the center assisted an estimated 20,000 people with pre-purchase, refinance and foreclosure prevention counseling last year. Of those families facing foreclosure, the center has an effectiveness rate higher than 50%. The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is the state’s leading independent, non-profit provider of information and resources aimed at helping Minnesotans obtain and maintain home ownership. With services available to all in need, the center places an emphasis on supporting low- and moderate-income Minnesotans and those who face barriers to home ownership by actively engaging in education, partnerships and outreach. Counseling support is available in English, Hmong and Spanish. The center also will fund interpretation services in another language, if necessary, through the counseling network. “Since credit unions are not-for-profit and have a true concern for their members’ financial well being, this relationship with the Home Ownership Center can enhance credit unions’ existing efforts and can be a win-win for all parties involved,” said Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN president/CEO. “Oftentimes consumers at risk of foreclosure are scared or embarrassed of their situation. By publicizing this counseling network to their members, credit unions can position themselves--yet again--as a go-to resource for their members.” Also, the center will host free training workshops specially designed for organizations that have regular contact with at-risk homeowners, including credit unions. Marketing materials are also available for credit unions to promote the counseling network to their members.