By Mike Stetzer
As foreclosures continue to ravage the country, many state, federal and nonprofit organizations are putting together programs and workshops to help educate homeowners about foreclosure.
Foreclosure counseling at these workshops and seminars is being offered to homeowners free-of-charge.
In Minnesota, the Department of Commerce and Minnesota Home Ownership Center (MHOC) has arranged to provide foreclosure counseling at the state fair this year, which began on August 21st and will end on September 1st.
Finance and Commerce reported that there are more homeowners facing foreclosure in Minnesota than ever. The number of Minnesota foreclosure filings is projected to soar up to 28,282 in 2008, marking a 39 percent increase over last year, according to a report released in April by MHOC and other housing organizations.
The full-blown Minnesota foreclosure counseling program at the state fair is the first of its kind, although foreclosure was a topic covered by the "ask an expert" attraction at the fair.
Since hundreds of thousands of people pass by the Department of Commerce's booth during the fair, counselors hope to reach out to as many homeowners as possible. The counselors will be at the booth between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to provide free information about the foreclosure process and homeowner's rights. They will also give tips for communicating with mortgage lenders and on how homeowners can avoid foreclosure rescue scams.
The presence at the state fair was made possible by a $4.3 million federal foreclosure counseling grant, which enabled 37 additional foreclosure counselors to be hired. The number of foreclosure counselors statewide in Minnesota is now 76.
In Michigan, Oakland County is joining forces with the cities of Farmington and Farmington Hills to offer a free seminar to help homeowners fight foreclosure, according to a report by WXYZ Detroit Action News.
Counselors will assist families in danger of losing homes by teaching them ways to avoid foreclosure and explaining what to do after a Michigan foreclosure action has been filed.
In Providence, Rhode Island, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) will provide a foreclosure workshop to assist homeowners who need to renegotiate their mortgage loans. ACORN is a nonprofit group that advocates for initiatives that benefit moderate- and low-income people.
The Providence Journal reported that approximately 1 in 41 mortgages were in Rhode Island foreclosure during the fourth quarter of 2007. The rate of seriously delinquent mortgages was also up by 3.9 percent during the same time period, an indication that even more homeowners were headed for foreclosure.
Part of the Rhode Island foreclosure problem stems from the fact that many buyers of rental properties tried to cash in on the housing market boom and got into risky subprime mortgages. Many of these rental properties have now been foreclosed on and are flooding the housing market. Approximately 62 percent of multifamily homes sold during the fourth quarter of 2007 were foreclosed properties resold by banks.
During the ACORN workshop, Rhode Island foreclosure counselors will review homeowners' finances and mortgage records. In some cases, ACORN workers may be able to help homeowners communicate with lenders to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage loans.
The goal of the workshop is to get homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages refinanced into affordable fixed-rate home loans.
In San Bernardino, California, approximately 400 distressed homeowners showed up at the National Orange Show Events Center for a foreclosure seminar and workshop.
The homeowners met with representatives from their banks, listened to experts who explained the mortgage and foreclosure crisis and received information on how to fight California foreclosure through strategies such as short sales and forbearance.
The seminar was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rep. Jerry Lewis.
According to the Press-Enterprise, Lewis' office sent notices about the workshop to all households in the Redlands district. Lenders also reportedly notified customers who had fallen behind on their mortgage payments.
If you're in danger of losing your home to foreclosure, speak to a bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible.
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