Real estate transfers over the last few years have shown an alarming number of homes being deeded back to lenders. The number of foreclosures in 2002 more than tripled in 2007.
A number of factors are responsible for turning the American Dream into nightmares.
A downturn in the economy and the resulting loss of jobs derailed some homeowners. Unscrupulous lenders took out a few more. Unrealistic, but eager, prospective buyers stretched their budgets so thin even the slightest downturn did them in. For each family facing foreclosure, there is a story. Illness, unemployment, divorce, whatever.
As each month rolls around and a new payment is due, many families are forced to face the fact their dream may be coming to an end.
Saving Our Homes Task Force was formed to provide advice for these homeowners in distress. Nonprofit agencies, lenders, appraisers, attorneys and local elected officials brought their expertise to the table to help homeowners cut through the red tape that binds them to hopelessness. Help is available. Those facing foreclosure can set up an appointment with Saving the Dream, a consortium of volunteer attorneys, at 888-404-4674, or Hope for Homeowners, a non-profit network dedicated to helping homeowners, at 888-995-HOPE.
Those who are secure in their homes shouldn't be too smug. The factors that brought other homeowners to their knees could happen to anyone. And your neighbors' misfortune affects you. No neighborhood is enhanced by empty or abandoned homes.
Saving Our Homes Task Force is a step in the right direction.
We can blame NAFTA, rising gasoline and utility prices, uninformed or unrealistic buyers or predatory lenders.
But, blame does not save homes.
Blame does not keep families together.
Blame does not preserve neighborhoods.
Now is not the time for blame. It's time to pick up the pieces and pull together to reinforce a sense of community and save some families' homes along the way.