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Chase to offer loan help Saturday

JPMorgan Chase & Co. signage is displayed outside

JPMorgan Chase & Co. signage is displayed outside of a bank branch in Orlando, Florida, U.S., on Monday, June 13, 2011. Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., announced plans to open as many as 2,000 branches, more than half of them in Florida and California, targeting states dominated by Bank of America Corp., the biggest U.S. bank by deposits, and Wells Fargo & Co., which has the largest branch network. Photographer: Phelan M. Ebenhack/Bloomberg Credit: Bloomberg/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Struggling homeowners with Chase mortgages can get help Saturday at the Marriott Hotel in Uniondale, where more than 12 loan advisers will be at hand.

Borrowers with EMC Mortgage may also get help because Chase services those loans.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., homeowners can get initial counseling on applying for changes to their mortgages, or loan modifications, in which monthly payments can be lowered. That can be done by reducing the interest rate, stretching the mortgage contract period or even cutting down the principal.

These modifications may be offered through the federal rescue plan, Home Affordable Modification Program, or through each lender’s own programs.

Homeowners are also welcome even if they are current on payments but have a hard time making them, Chase said.

It’s an opportunity to drop off loan modification applications and sign Chase papers, a way to cut down chances of the lender losing or misplacing the paperwork. That's been a common complaint from borrowers, regardless of who the lender is.

This summer, Chase plans to open a Long Island "homeownership center," where people can get similar help on their loans. The closest one is at 176-60 Union Tpke., Flushing.

The hotel is within walking distance of Hempstead Village, which in April decided to close its $12.5 million account at Chase to protest the bank's mortgage modification practices. Earlier this month, that example was followed by Freeport Village, which Chase said had recently borrowed a $5 million loan that was still open; the Hempstead Village Housing Authority; and Long Island Jobs With Justice, a workers' rights advocate.

The campaign against Chase has been organized by New York Communities for Change, staffed by many of those who once worked for the New York chapter of ACORN, a national nonprofit that shut down after several controversies. The nonprofit said Chase has balked at modifying the loans of blacks and Latinos.

Chase spokesman Michael Fusco said they held the event after talking to officials of Hempstead and Freeport villages: "We're doing everything we can to help struggling homeowners. We've been working with their offices looking for additional ways to reach them . . . Any struggling borrowers, we want to work with them regardless of their background."

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