Alexis has two young children, a husband injured on the job and a mortgage payment her family’s reduced income no longer covers.
“We’re about $1,000 a month short and with the economy the way it’s going, we’re in trouble,” said the Martinez mother who asked that we use only her first name. “I’m hoping I can get our lender to work with us for about six months.’
Alexis was one of several hundred people who attended a day-long mortgage foreclosure prevention workshop today jointly sponsored by three members of Congress, U.S. Reps. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, George Miller, D-Martinez and Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.
Area homeowners met with HUD-certified housing counselors, lenders and community resource organizations. They also heard from experts how to avoid scams and illegal loans, options to foreclosure, tax implications and bankruptcy.
“You have taken a huge step by coming here today,” said Miller from the podium at the United Association Plumbers and Steamfitters union hall in Concord. “Forget the embarrassment. Many people are in trouble, many of them through no fault of their own. You must reach out to lenders and admit you have a problem. Don’t wait until it’s too late.”
The congressional triumvirate convened the foreclosure prevention forum to help stem the rising foreclosure tide sweeping across the nation and California.
The East Bay has been hit hard as people on the economic edge stretched into risky loans or borrowed on home equity that no longer exists.
As people lose their homes and banks dump the properties on the market at discounted prices, everyone’s home values decline, Tauscher said. That leads to even greater numbers of homeowners whose houses are no longer worth what they paid for them.
Tauscher and her two East Bay colleagues support legislation that would allow banks to voluntarily reduce loans up to 30 percent and negotiate new mortgages with homeowners. Similar versions of the bill passed in the House and the Senate and await the outcome of a conference committee.
To help restore faith in homeownership as an investment and reduce the number of foreclosed homes for sale, the legislation also includes a tax credit for nervous but qualified first-time homebuyers who need a push to persuade them to enter the fragile market.
Are you behind on your house payments? Don’t wait until it’s too late to save your home and your credit. Call and get help or look on-line for assistance:
— HUD housing counselors: 800-569-4287 or www.hud.gov/counseling
— Hope Now, industry alliance: 1-888-995-4673 or www.hopenow.com