Durham home foreclosures on the rise

March 22, 2008 10:31:34 AM PDT
The Durham City Council is taking stock of the rising number of home foreclosures.

One councilman says hundreds of unsuspecting homeowners have been scammed. Others say minorities have been unfairly hit.

Durham home renter, Kenny Hart, does not have to walk far to show the signs of neglect.

"We got bird nests in the window, gutters torn up," he said.

But two days ago, he finally got a sign of the landlord's money troubles. The owner has lost the home to foreclosure.

"They stapled the letter on the door," Hart said. "That was it. Point blank."

Durham suffered 1,700 home foreclosures last year, and the Bull City is on pace toward another 2,000 this year.

Some call it a home loan housing crisis in Durham. Others accuse lenders of targeting African-Americans with bad loans.

"Unfortunately there were some companies that did go into communities and did try to target African-American homeowners and encouraged them to refinance into loans that were very expensive," Al Ripley, N.C. Justice Center, said.

Durham's City Council has taken notice. Some want public money for housing counselors and legal advice.

"About 30-40 percent of the minorities that were targeted, who ended up getting sub-prime loans, were actually qualified to an ordinary loan," Ripley explained.

Hart's rental home goes on the auction block in two weeks.

"That's harsh, because I have a family of four here," Hart said.

And he expects the new owner to make him move.

Mortgage and foreclosure experts note that about half of homeowners who slip into foreclosure do so before calling their lender. Experts say those having trouble making payments should call their lender early and they should call a housing counselor.


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