Banks Foreclosures in North Carolina Saved by Partnership

by on States

Banks foreclosures in Winston-Salem and in other parts of Forsyth County, North Carolina are being saved by a partnership of private and public leaders in the area.

This week, about 70 bankers, state and local government officials, community advocates, state banking commissioner Joseph Smith Jr. and the neighborhood advocacy group CHANGE held a meeting to find and implement ways to cut down foreclosures and their impact on the community.

Banking commissioner Smith said that foreclosures can increase by 20 percent this year because of problems such as job loss, divorce or illness, but he added that Forsyth County will survive because residents receive great support from government officials and nonprofits.

Steven Scroggin of CHANGE, which means Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment, said the level of foreclosures is unacceptable. In the area, a lot of foreclosures arose from subprime mortgages and adjustable-rate loans.

Scroggin added that monitoring the number of foreclosure properties in a timely manner has been difficult. Recently, local housing officials discovered that there were 78 banks foreclosures which were not listed in the Triad Multiple Listing Service, which means that there are more foreclosures than being counted. A number of units are being counted as non distressed homes and homes for sale by owner.

While Scroggin focused on the need to sell foreclosed properties in order to rejuvenate the housing market, advocates stressed the need to help homeowners with lis pendens notices avoid foreclosure.

Hazel Mack Hillard, one of the leaders of Legal Aid of North Carolina, said that business and community leaders need to help homeowners stabilize their finances so they can stay in their homes.

Kathy Banks, counseling director at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Forsyth County, also called on lenders to provide loans to people who lost their homes to foreclosure due to reasons beyond their control.

To help neighborhoods manage their foreclosures, Forsyth County, Winston-Salem City and the Habitat for Humanity will use the $4.5 million they received from the second funding round of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help residents own foreclosed properties in struggling areas.

The county and city will offer about $20,000 in down payment assistance each to buyers of about 75 foreclosed houses while Habitat will fix and sell about 20 houses. Around 400 residents have already submitted their applications to own homes under the program.

According to banking commissioner Smith, the combined effort focuses on foreclosure prevention and on turning banks foreclosures into affordable homes for struggling families.

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