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Reporting Matchmaker: Setting Up Home Loan Modification Applicants With Local Journalists

Update: ProPublica is no longer maintaining the Loan Mod Matchmaker program for journalists. Want to be notified of other ProPublica reporting initiatives? Sign up for the ProPublica Reporting Network.

We still want to hear from homeowners dealing the government's loan modification program. If you are a struggling homeowner, click here to share your story with ProPublica's reporters.

Allow us to make an introduction: Homeowners, local journalists. Local journalists, homeowners. We’d like to set you up.

Since last May, nearly 800 struggling homeowners from all over the country have shared their stories with ProPublica about their efforts to get a loan modification through the federal program. With their help, we showed the incredible delays and frustrations applicants typically face: mortgage servicers have repeatedly lost documents, misinformed homeowners, and denied modifications for reasons that run contrary to the program’s guidelines. Among the 1.1 million homeowners who’ve begun the program’s trial stage, which is supposed to last three months, hundreds of thousands have waited in limbo for six months or more.

We have no doubt that there are many more important stories to be told. By any account, millions of homeowners are facing possible foreclosure. Although we read every homeowner’s story, we can only use a fraction in our coverage. That’s why we’re offering to set up our readers with local journalists (with the homeowner’s permission, of course). Often, the media can be the most effective recourse for homeowners who have nowhere else to turn.

We’re calling our service ProPublica’s Reporting Matchmaker. Here’s how it’ll work.

Struggling homeowners, share your stories with us – and give us permission to share your email or phone number (or both) with a local journalist. Once you do that, a pushpin representing you will be added to our map. Your contact information will not be published on the Web nor shared without your permission.

Journalists, sign up here and we’ll put you in contact with struggling homeowners in your area who want to talk with local journalists. A quick look at our map will show you whether we’ve currently got a match. We’ll let you know if someone in your area wants to speak with a local journalist.

 

 

The service is free. All that we ask of the local journalists is that they cite and link to ProPublica in their story and send it along to our reporter Paul Kiel to make sure we catch it.

We know that news organizations don’t give up their sources to their competitors, but we’re a different kind of publication: We recently handed out copies of our stimulus data to anyone looking into government waste and fraud. Reporters Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber gave away their reporting recipe for those investigating regulatory boards and other licensing organizations. Many reporters have participated in our distributed reporting projects, like the Stimulus Spot Check and the Super Bowl Blitz. We’re grateful for their help, and aim to reciprocate in ways that help the public good.

If you’d like to be notified of reporting projects like these at ProPublica – or if you’d like to be a source to us on other issues – please sign up for our Reporting Network.

 

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