Despite national decrease, foreclosures up in Bay Area

December 15, 2011 6:09:15 PM PST
Activists fought back against the foreclosure process in Martinez on Thursday, and new numbers demonstrate why the felt compelled to do something.

Across the country, foreclosures are down 14.5 percent from year to year according to RealtyTrac, but in California, foreclosures are up 11 percent.

Six of the nine Bay Area counties have seen an increase.

The national numbers may be down, but that's expected during the holiday season. The real concern is what happens after the new year, when another surge of bank repossessions is expected, especially in places like Contra Costa County which has already been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

While most of the rest of the country is seeing declines in foreclosure filings, California and some counties in the Bay Area have had dramatic jumps in the past year.

According to RealtyTrac, Contra Costa foreclosure rates jumped more than 18 percent since last year -- that's compared with a 16.5 percent drop in neighboring Alameda County.

"For over 20 years, I made my payments on time," said Tony Amador of Oakley, who allowed demonstrators to use his home as a backdrop for their protest on Thursday. Amador's home is a house where he and his wife raised four children, and it's a home he's about to lose to foreclosure after being laid off from his job.

Amador is expected to be evicted by Christmas.

"I've been double-crossed," Amador said. "Between the mortgage companies that I've been paying to all my life -- between that, and the government letting them do it, they stabbed the knife into my heart and I'm bleeding."

Pittsburg resident Jose Vega managed to save his house, but he worries about others who can't.

"A lot of families end up splitting up over this; the stress is so much," Vega said.

In Martinez, protesters shouted down auctioneers and buyers of foreclosed properties on the courthouse steps. At least one of those bidding on the homes thought the chants coming from the protesters were misguided.

"We can't stop this," said bidder Bill Katsaros. "He's not gonna stop it. We're not going to stop this, we don't have the authority. This isn't Chase (Bank). This is a foreclosure proceeding. They need to be in front of Chase Bank, they might get somewhere."

Fannie Mae has made a commitment not to do any evictions during the holidays, but the activity that leads up to the eviction -- including the court filings -- is ongoing and will likely pick up again after Jan. 1.

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