Job losses could trigger more foreclosures

April 23, 2009 7:07:29 PM PDT
The housing crisis could be on a collision course with the unemployment rate. The longer Californians are out of work, the further behind they get on mortgage payment, which could trigger another wave for foreclosures.

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Hugo Fernandez is sitting in a place no one wants and more and more people find themselves, out of work and worried about foreclosure. In Fernandez's case, he used to help build homes and is now at risk of losing his own.

"You lose your job, it's hard because you get a lot of stress, you lose sleep, your hurt for the payments," Fernandez said.

In the first three months of this year, lenders sent out a record number of default notices -- up 80 percent from the previous three months. With more than 2 million Californians already out of work and the number still rising, many experts fear a second wave of foreclosures.

"I think that the folks who were unable to or did not go out and get help are going to be the ones that suffer next," Santa Clara County Association of Realtors Quincy Virgilio said.

The city of San Jose teamed up with a variety of public and private partners in hopes of preventing some of that suffering with a day-long foreclosure help workshop.

"That's what it's all about today, to try to help the homeowner try to keep their home," real estate broker Tina Hubbard said.

Monica Delgado did not imagine she would ever be in such a position, but her work hours have been slashed and she could not make her last mortgage payment.

"I was afraid to come over here, but I have no choice because I've got to find out if there is any help for me out there," Delgado said.

Experts say early action is the best approach and free help is important because scammers are already trying to profit off the housing crisis.

"We want to make sure that people aren't taken advantage of by crooks and criminals who are praying on people most in need," San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said.

Getting a loan modification or refinancing can take months, but now homeowners know they are not on their own.

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