January 25, 2008

Workshop Offers Help For Subprime Sufferers

By John Han
New America Media

Hundreds of anxious homeowners packed the Chamber of Commerce in Oakland’s City Hall last Saturday to hear what local, state, and federal lawmakers had to say about solutions to help people caught in the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

California has five of the top ten cities with the highest foreclosure rates in the country, with Oakland ranking in the top five according to Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). She’s called California the “poster child” of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

“Communities of color are being particularly hard hit,” said Lee, citing statistics showing over half of home loans made to African American communities have been sub-prime, as have two out of every five home loans made to Latinos.

This gathering was a first of its’ kind workshop, aimed at educating homeowners on how to avoid foreclosures. It was staged by the California State and Consumer Service and the state’s Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency.

Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director of the statewide, non-profit legal service called Housing and Economics Rights Advocates, talked about her group’s study which showed most foreclosures in Alameda County last year occurred in areas that are predominately people of color with high homeownership rates. She wants federal funds to be used to educate homeowners.

“I would like to see money made available for people to get counseled properly, for people to be able to avoid being pulled into risky scams, and for people to get reputable advice from folks who aren’t going to be charging them a bunch of money for it,” said Brown.

“Because the reality for some people is going to be that they can’t afford to keep that house.”

“We’re all watching to see what can be done without legislation. But if there isn’t voluntary action to ease the situation, it’s going to be incumbent on the state to step up and pass those bills.”

Workshops will be held around California till the end of Feb. For specifics, go to http://www.yourhome.ca.gov.

A workshop in San Diego will be held on Wednesday, February 13th

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