Year-end foreclosure numbers grim

January 15, 2009 7:06:34 PM PST
More bad news for the thousands of families who are struggling to save their homes. According to the RealtyTrac information service, there were more than 3.1 million foreclosure filings last year -- 81 percent more last year than in 2007, and 17 percent more than in November.

Antioch held an event at a church Thursday to help homeowners facing foreclosure meet face to face with their lenders, in this case representatives from Countrywide, now owned by Bank of America.

It is an event for homeowners desperately trying to get a loan modification and avoid foreclosure.

"I've been talking with Countrywide since March of '07," said homeowner Aleisha Chenault of Oakland. "They have turned me down repeatedly, constantly. First, I did not qualify because I was not behind. I was not late. Now that my income is zero, next to nothing, I still don't qualify."

Countrywide, owned by Bank of America, did send a team of loan consultants with laptops in hand.

"They have come here and they are ready to face the people and trying to work and do loan modifications face to face. That is very important," said Rosario Frissa with Coco Interfaith Organization

Any help will come too late for many. Year-end figures from RealtyTrac show nationwide foreclosure filings jumped 81 percent in 2008. In some Bay Area counties, the numbers are much worse -- up 153 percent in Santa Clara, 138 percent in Marin, 123 percent in San Mateo, 108 percent in Alameda, and 93 percent in Contra Costa.

It is a crisis compounded by increasing job losses.

Oakley's Keith Washington, a former Navy petty officer who served in the Iraq War, had a good job when he bought his house in 2005. He put down $40,000 and secured a 30-year fixed rate mortgage from Citibank. In October, he and his fiance welcomed baby Devon. In December, six days before Christmas, he lost his job as a mechanic at a Tracy plant that makes car parts.

"There was a wave of people losing their homes and now there's a wave of people losing their jobs as well," said Washington.