People who are having trouble paying their mortgages are being urged by Charleston community leaders and elected officials to attend a free workshop Saturday to get help.

If you go

The free mortgage workshop will be from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday at the Renaissance Charleston Historic District hotel, 68 Wentworth St.

To schedule a time in advance, which is encouraged, visit or call 225-4343. Free parking will be available.

"It could well mean, for many in our community, the ability to be more secure ... and continue to own their home," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said.

Some borrowers may be able to arrange loan modifications that would be approved the same day, in face-to-face meetings with lenders. Representatives from mortgage assistance programs, such as South Carolina's SC HELP, also will be there with programs that can provide financial support.

Loan modifications can mean lower interest rates that reduce monthly payment, or reductions in the total amount owed. There also are mortgage payment assistance programs, such as SC HELP, a federally funded effort that began during the recession to aid struggling homeowners in some of the hardest-hit states.

Charleston nonprofit group PASTORS, working with the city and Wells Fargo bank, is organizing the workshop.

The Rev. Joe Darby, chairman of PASTORS, said there will be lots of useful information about housing finance that should be helpful to people who are considering home ownership, as well as for people struggling to maintain home ownership.

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the nation's largest mortgage lender, will have staff on hand to work with distressed borrowers.

"We care deeply about our community" said Antoine Saunders of Wells Fargo. "That's why we are bringing people to Charleston to meet face-to-face."

Charleston City Council members Robert Mitchell and William Dudley Gregorie - a former housing counselor and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development administrator - both said the workshop will be important for anyone having trouble paying their mortgage.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552