SJ launches foreclosure help program


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San Jose city leaders say they have new money to tackle the foreclosure crisis on a number of fronts including help for those people who have already lost their homes.

"At this point we have $4.1 million in federal stimulus monies that's available for rental assistance and case management to people being displaced from their home due to foreclosure," San Jose Director of Housing Leslye Krutko said.

There is also money from the Housing and Economic Recovery Act signed last year by President Bush. San Jose is getting $5.6 million to buy up foreclosed properties that are a blight and drain on the surrounding neighborhood.

"Some of them are in just bad, bad condition and we may need to buy them, tear them down and then it would be a place for an affordable housing project perhaps or some sort of replacement housing like Habitat for Humanity," Mayor Chuck Reed said.

The foreclosure crisis has a firm grip in San Jose. Three years ago, there were just 2,000 foreclosures. That number nearly tripled in 2007 and last year reached 14,000.

That is why the city is also launching a consolidated effort with a number of non-profit partners to prevent more foreclosures.

It is just the kind of free help that saved Ron Langston from losing his home.

"Neighborhood Housing Services did all the work, I just had to get the paperwork together; there was zero monies coming out of my pocket, zero," Langston said.

In many cases, homes cannot be saved and the experts warn the loan modification process involving lenders can be a long one.

"They're overwhelmed, obviously, so it does take months, so the earlier you start the better off you are," Quincy Virgilio of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors said.

On April 23, 2009, San Jose is hosting a day-long foreclosure help workshop at the county fairgrounds. The city will also be opening a one-stop for foreclosure help and resources at the Work2Future facility at 1290 Parkmoor Avenue.

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