Avoiding foreclosure to stay in your home

March 10, 2010 3:30:56 PM PST
It's a rough economy out in Brooklyn. Higher unemployment rates are sparking a new wave of foreclosures, and many families simply can't pay their bills. In New York state, foreclosures are up 31 percent from a year ago. There are empty homes in all the counties in our area, from Suffolk to Putnam. In New Jersey, foreclosures are up 23 percent from last year, with the hardest hit areas being Passaic, Essex and Union counties.

And state-wide in Connecticut, foreclosures jumped 34 percent from last year.

So what options do you have if you can't pay your bills and the bank is knocking on your door?

Eric Stewart's brownstone means everything to him.

"No matter where I went, it could be sunny up the street, right over my head it was cloudy," he said.

But string of bad luck and foreclosure almost drove him from the home and the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood he loves.

He had refinanced the home. Then he fell behind on the payments. It is a scenario familiar to millions of people across the country.

In New York, the foreclosure rate, according to some estimates, stands and nearly 8 percent. That's means hundreds of thousands of homeowners are fearing foreclosure.

There are a couple of things you can do to fight foreclosure. According to the experts, you can contact your lender or a counselor who will help you through the process as you navigate local and federal programs that might help.

"We've made a major difference," said Richard Trouth, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Bed-Stuy.

The group helps New Yorkers who are on the verge of foreclosure. There are groups like NHS in every borough.

"We will try to work you through a modification process," he said. "Of course, every situation is different, based on delinquency."

If you live in New York City, you can contact NHS directly or call 311.

Eyewitness News gave it a show, and it took just a few minutes to get helpful information.

Unfortunately, some scam artists see opportunity in foreclosures. So be careful who you turn to for help.

Eric Stewart almost fell into the trap.

"They wanted money up front," he said.

And that was a red flag. But he eventually found help from NHS. It was free, and now he is comfortable in his home.

Because for him, foreclosure is a nightmare he can forget.