Fewer homeowners than expected turned out Thursday for a Bank of America event aimed at helping people who are struggling to pay their mortgage bills.

Only 273 people -- less than 3 percent of the 10,000 who received invitations -- had registered by Thursday afternoon for the gathering that runs through Saturday at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale. Homeowners who bring a complete set of documents can expect to get a decision about a loan modification or other assistance at the event, officials said.

The bank typically gets 4 percent to 6 percent of homeowners it invites to such events in New York, and 3 to 5 percent elsewhere, Sheila Sellers, a senior vice president at the bank, said earlier this week.

"We would prefer to see a much greater participation," Sellers said.

The bank has made its procedures more customer-friendly, held mortgage-help events and opened in-person customer assistance centers in West Hempstead and elsewhere, she said.

The $25-billion settlement Bank of America and four other lenders reached in February with federal and state officials over alleged foreclosure abuses requires the lenders to do customer outreach.

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Kristen Burke said she initially tore up the invitation to the event, since she has been "thoroughly disgusted" by the bank in her previous efforts to get help. Burke, a nurse who lives with her husband and three children in Ridge, said the family has tried to get a loan modification since early 2010, when her overtime hours at a hospital were cut and it became increasingly difficult to make the mortgage payments.

At her father's urging, she attended as a last-ditch step before hiring a lawyer. "I'm kind of glad I did, because they're very helpful," she said. Five and a half hours after she arrived, she learned that she had received conditional approval, although a title search was needed and it would take up to 10 days to get a final answer.

Carol Yopp, a program manager with the Long Island Housing Partnership who counseled homeowners at the event Thursday, said three of her clients attended a similar event last summer. It took from six months to almost a year for them to get answers, she said.

 

Getting mortgage help

When: Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Where: Long Island Marriott, 101 James Doolittle Blvd., Uniondale

Info: bankofamerica.com/homeloanhelp or 855-201-7426.