Thursday, August 20, 2009

Focusing on foreclosures.

Focusing on foreclosures

An upcoming housing fair in Thornton will give homeowners who are struggling with their mortgages a rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with their lenders and banking representatives.

Colorado Congressmen Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter are hosting the Aug. 22 event in response to frustrations voiced by residents who are facing or hoping to avoid a foreclosure, said Gina Salazar, deputy district director for Congressman Polis' office. Constituents often call their congressional offices for help after they've given up trying to get a hold of their own lenders and banks, she said.

"They just weren't getting calls back, or had perpetual waits or got stuck with auto-attendants on the phone," Salazar said. "Basically, we're hearing it's difficult to talk to a live person."

The housing fair, she said, will give homeowners a four-hour window to speak with many of the major players in the banking and mortgage arena, including representatives from American Home Mortgage Servicing, Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

"It's about empowering our constituents who are trying to save their home or protect their investment," Salazar said.

The fair also has an educational component. Workshops will touch on everything from foreclosure and new home ownership to how to talk to lenders, said Debra Gray, neighborhood services housing coordinator for the City of Thornton.

"If you combine all these resources in one room, then it's kind of like one-stop shopping," Gray said. "It's a wonderful benefit to people that just doesn't happen very often."

Thornton and several other communities in Adams County have been hard hit by the recent wave of foreclosures. The county once had the highest foreclosure rate in the state.

Recent data, however, indicates the situation may be getting slightly better.

The number of completed foreclosures in Adams County fell 19 percent in the first half of 2009 compared to the same period last year, according to a report from the Colorado Division of Housing. The same report shows the number of foreclosure filings also dropped in Adams County, down 11 percent this year compared to the same period in 2008.

But even with the slowdown, Thornton still remains vulnerable to the foreclosure crisis, Gray said. Neighborhood Services works to track housing trends in the city, and right now, it appears the north part of the city is experiencing a higher than normal rate of foreclosures, she said.

The city is conducting outreach efforts in that area, including placing posters at bus stops that advertise foreclosure prevention resources. Those efforts, along with the housing fair, are intended to help residents avoid the dreaded Notice of Election and Demand in the mail.

"The key is to get help," she said, "before it's too late."

The housing fair is scheduled to go from 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 22 at the Margaret Carpenter Recreation Center, 11151 Colorado Blvd., Thornton. Call 303-287-4159 for more information or to R.S.V.P.


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