Foreclosures Provide New Purpose for Refugee Center

by Donald Hanz on Foreclosures

The Lao Family Community Development Inc refugee center was established 28 years ago by grateful families who escaped the wars in Southeast Asia and would like to give back to the community after this seeming miracle that they experienced in their lives.

The center was dedicated to providing low-income immigrants and refugees who lacked English knowledge to adapt a life in the United States and achieve financial and social self-sufficiency. Now, the center has shifted focus and has started assisting not only refugees but any East Bay homeowners in desperate need of assistance in preventing foreclosures.

For families in fear of losing their homes to foreclosures, the center provides assistance and counseling in English, Chinese and a variety of Southeast Asian dialects. With over 30 to 40 calls a day, the center has been receiving more requests for foreclosures related inquiries, along with their regular service offerings.

The center is headquartered in the San Antonio district of Oakland but also has offices in San Pablo and Sacramento, regions that were also hard-hit by the foreclosures crisis. Cramped in a 5,000 square foot location in 23rd Avenue where the center has held office for several years, people flock to this location seeking help with foreclosures.

Several years before the current foreclosures crisis blew out of proportion, the center has been tapped by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide counseling services to low-income families seeking assistance in housing. They have had several successes in this regard from getting up to $4000 down payment assistance to acquiring long-term mortgages for their homes.

But now, their staff has been getting frantic calls and visits from homeowners seeking help: from asking for emergency funds to pay mortgages, to assistance in negotiating with their lenders to modify their loans.

However, most of these homeowners are already in too deep with their mortgage problems that it would take another miracle to bail them out.