It was the third stop on the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America's nationwide "Save the Dream Tour," which offered mortgage restructuring help in Washington, D.C., last year and in Stamford, Conn., last month. The nonprofit also plans to visit areas hard-hit by foreclosure, like Florida and California.
Using paycheck stubs, interviews and tax filings, NACA counselors calculate what struggling homeowners can afford to pay, then negotiate with lenders who have signed agreements with the group.
Around 10,000 people had registered for the free counseling service before the event began Friday and a total of 20,000 were expected to participate over three days, said organizer Carmon Orta.
"Everyone is in an unaffordable mortgage right now whether it be that they were in a predatory loan and got duped into a bad interest rate or because of the economy they have a job loss," she said. "We will go to the lender's CEO's office. We will go and do what we have to do to sit with them until they sign a contract with us and agree to have real solutions and modifications for people."
U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. and a fan of the group, said such efforts will help stabilize families and give them hope.
"And I think it will do a whole lot to help get this country back where it ought to be," he said.
Some lenders are beginning to recognize the problems with the foreclosure process and working with several nonprofit groups to restructure mortgages, Bank of America spokesman Rick Simon said.
"We're now looking more and more at the cost of going to foreclosure," he said. "And knowing what that cost is
- and it's tens of thousands of dollars per foreclosure - it doesn't make much sense in today's environment."
NACA boasts of lowering the mortgage payments of more than 90 percent of the people who seek their services.
Carol Dycus hopes she's next. The 64-year-old, who can't work because she had a heart attack, said a prayer before leaving her Newberry home around 6 a.m. Friday and making the 40-mile trip to the Carolina Coliseum in the state capital.