Hope. For homeowners navigating the foreclosure moonscape, hope has become a sought-after commodity, second perhaps only to a successful loan modification or outright cancellation of foreclosure proceedings.
Toward the end of the May 2009 foreclosure workshop at Westmoor High School in Daly City, a couple walked up to the registration table, thanked the organizers and volunteers and said, “For the first time in a long time, we have hope.”
Hope is what the second annual foreclosure workshop, set for May 15, in South San Francisco, will try to again provide. In record numbers, families are still facing default, foreclosure and eviction. And few have sufficient knowledge regarding their options and their legal rights. Certified mortgage counselors from Bay Area nonprofit groups and lawyers with experience in real estate laws will be available to offer accurate and unbiased information.
Presented by San Mateo County, the City of South San Francisco and the Housing Leadership Council, the workshop is free and open to all. The intent is to help at-risk property owners — and renters — to make informed decisions in the context of a grim reality.
For 2009, RealtyTrac reported a record 2.8 million U.S. properties (with a mortgage) receiving foreclosure notices. That was a 21 percent increase from 2008 and a whopping 120 percent uptick from 2007.
“Foreclosures remain a major threat to local communities,” said Keisha Woods, housing program manager for Northern California Urban Development, an East Palo Alto-based nonprofit serving low-income families.
Recent statistics appear to indicate a turn for the worse. Data compiled by the California Foreclosure Report show that the number of Notices of Default jumped statewide by 19.7 percent from January to February 2010. For San Mateo County, February 2010 saw 351 notices, up more than 23 percent from January. The report also showed a 3.58 percent, January-February 2010 statewide increase in Notices of Trustee Sale, which sets the time and date of a foreclosed property’s auction.
“Foreclosures will still be a major issue for the rest of this year,” Woods said. “Individuals must focus more on their spending habits and adjust their lifestyles to meet their current financial situation. For some, unfortunately, these are going to be permanent changes.”
The workshop is set for 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, May 15, Parkway Heights Middle School, 650 Sunset Drive, South San Francisco. The event is free and open to everyone. For more information, call (650) 363-4526 or visit the Housing Leadership Council at www.HLCSMC.org.
Adrienne J. Tissier is a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.