"This crisis has been disproportionately affecting minority communities. We need to focus the solutions in minority communities," said Donovan.
Donovan made the announcement at the Oakland Marriott where about 500 borrowers were receiving HUD counseling in how to obtain a permanent loan modification from their mortgage provider
At the Oakland event, each borrower received face-to-face counseling and a rare chance to meet with a decision-maker from one of four large banks, including Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase.
Elizabeth Gilmore, 80, was among those attending. After two years of being on a trial payment plan with Bank of America, Gilmore finally feels confident she'll be able to save the Oakland home she's owned for 50 years. "The payments were just too high for me to handle because I'm on a fixed income," said Gilmore. "Hopefully this happens. They're working on it."
"We want to see everybody to at least let them know where they stand," said Tai Mamea from J.P. Morgan Chase. "They just need to have some understanding of where they're at and what it's going to take for them to either continue to be either approved for modification or be denied."
While some homeowners finally reach a resolution with their banks, others are still in limbo and are months or even years into the modification process.
"I've filled out so many loan modification packages," said Faye Crosley.
Crosley is a cancer survivor who has received a dozen auction notices for her Richmond home over two years. And while the paperwork piles up and IndyMac always relents with a last-minute reprieve, a permanent modification remains elusive.
"I'm a senior citizen fighting cancer and it's a lot of work for me remembering things and trying to find things and meeting all these deadlines. And every time, I hope it's going to work and so far it hasn't," said Crosley.
According to HUD's Making Home Affordable program, about 470,000 homeowners have received permanent modifications and 660,000 have seen their temporary modifications canceled because they don't make enough money or missed a payment during their trial period. HUD claims about half of those canceled receive alternative modifications from their service providers and only about 10 percent end up in foreclosure.
Making Home Affordable: 1-888-995-HOPE (4673)