Housing agency gets funds to help

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Georgia homeowners facing foreclosure could get help soon through new funds provided to a local housing advocacy group.

The CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority is one of the agencies in Georgia that will get funds from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program. The exact amount of Augusta's funding, which is part of $887,000 that went to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, was not disclosed but is less than $20,000.

It is enough for the authority to hire another staff member to help do foreclosure-prevention counseling, something it could only do in a limited way before, said Christel Jiles, the home ownership program coordinator.

"But now that we've said, 'Hey, here we are, we can help,' we expect those calls to definitely increase," she said.

Agencies in Savannah, Albany, Macon and Columbus will be getting similar funding, said Ron Ross, the business development coordinator for the Department of Community Affairs.

"From the standpoint of addressing the issue of people facing foreclosure, I think the funding is critically important," said Carmen Chubb, the assistant commissioner for housing for the state agency.

The South Carolina Housing Finance and Development Authority is not participating in that program, spokeswoman Barbara Pearson said.

The funding could help what might be a lingering crisis, Ms. Chubb said.

"Nobody knows for sure if we're really at the point of where we've peaked out with the foreclosures," she said. "The most reasonable estimate that I've read indicates that we'll continue with this trend through 2009."

Almost half the people facing foreclosure never contact the lender, which is a mistake, Ms. Jiles said.

Lenders "are more willing than most people think to reduce the interest rate or come up with a new payment plan," she said

The authority can work with lenders and homeowners to help get them back on track, whether it is budgeting or working around the problem that caused the foreclosure, she said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.


Most people facing foreclosure make the mistake of waiting too long before seeking help, and half don't talk to their lender about their options. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has tips to help avoid foreclosure:

- Reduce expenses by cutting costs in several areas

- Prioritize expenses by paying the most necessary bills first

- Protect your credit score by using credit cards wisely

- Try to save money to build a fund for emergencies;

- If you feel you might be getting into trouble, talk to a housing counselor certified by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These services are free.

- For a list of agencies providing counseling, go to www.dcaloans.com. You can also contact HUD at (800) 569-4287. Help is available 24 hours a day at (888) 995-HOPE (4673). That service is also free. In Augusta and 13 surrounding counties in Georgia, call the CSRA EOA at (706) 724-8588.


County Foreclosure ratio from Feb. '07 Rank in state % change
Burke 1-1,311 62 -22
Columbia 1-907 51 -21
McDuffie 1-578 23 78
Richmond 1-464 18 -3
Aiken 1-4,131 17 0
Edgefield 1-281 1 --

Source: RealtyTrac


Congressman Gresham Barrett, with the nonprofit NeighborWorks America, will hold a home ownership seminar in Graniteville. Representatives will offer free one-on-one counseling on buying a home and avoiding foreclosure.

WHAT: Home Ownership Education Seminar

WHEN: March 28; 6-8 p.m.

WHERE: Christian Heritage Church, 285 Ascauga Lake Road, Graniteville

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Reality 03/20/08 - 05:29 am
A good deal of the borrowers

A good deal of the borrowers have no idea about credit or lending institutions. Most should not have been given credit in the first place or been lent as much money...I feel bad for people losing their home ,but come on, you can't buy a $150,000 house on $15,000 a year salary. So, I hope they can all save their homes, that they can't afford, the government will bail them out again...........

pantherluvcik 03/20/08 - 06:29 am
It's about time the

It's about time the government helps the working class person and not just the non-workers in america. Someone sitting at home with 10 children getting welfare and foodstamps are the ones who don't deserve the help.

patriciathomas 03/20/08 - 07:06 am
It's a shame no one paid

It's a shame no one paid attention in school when dealing with credit issues was taught in the economics or accounting class. The "dealing with credit" issue should be a class required before a lending institution risks its money. It would be the responsibility of the borrower to prepare himself to take on a loan. Just like being an adult. (why is this the taxpayer's responsibility?)

gijoe7898 03/20/08 - 07:32 am
I'm not so sure they offer

I'm not so sure they offer those classes any more. Personal responsibility is a huge key to this. Then again, look at corp responsibility. Not in the sense that horrible loans were made available, but that like Country Wide and Bear Sterns, they asumed huge risks on these loans that are defaulting. Not much common sense there either.

getalife 03/20/08 - 08:22 am
I could understand saving

I could understand saving people's houses that lost their jobs or had a major expense from some tragic accident or medical issue, but saving their homes because they made a bad financial decision is another way for wasting taxpayer's money. Before buying a mortgage, people should be required to review the mortgage rate and payment information. Mortgages were written on homes costing more than the people could afford and for people already with too much debt. I don't see how the government can save people making a bad financial decision, what about buying a business that goes bad, a stock that fails or a car that is too costly?? People should be more responsible for their actions and not rely on the government to always pull them through.

wcr250 03/20/08 - 09:55 am
You can not buy things you

You can not buy things you can not afford. no one is entitled to own a big home. The rest of who strullged for years and bought homes we could afford should be given an opportunity to upgrade,If the US Govt. is going to give tax payer money to these people who can not make a rational decision

read this
read this 03/20/08 - 10:00 am
I hear what ya'll are saying,

I hear what ya'll are saying, but don't forget that the government makes fiscal policy decisions that are first felt by those at the bottom. Move the interest rate, increase property assesments, print too much money, raise utility and gasoline taxes, make war, bail out billion dollar corporations, require ethanol in fuel, require 30 MPG vehicles, allow no-limit lawsuits, regulate, regulate, and regulate. And don't forget too, that these loans are generally made by private banks and that it is YOUR money they are lending.

WHATDIDIDO 03/20/08 - 11:34 am
I guess the bank that we just

I guess the bank that we just supported with 40 Billion dollars is an allowable exception?

epkeaton 03/20/08 - 12:37 pm
It's amazing how everyone

It's amazing how everyone wants to be upset with the homeowners and yet no one seems to find fault with the lenders and realtors that have made livings off convincing people to buy things that they couldn't afford. This country is undergoing a foreclosure boom mostly due to predatory lending, and somehow its the victims that we've made into the villains.
Why do we assume that the people receiving assistance are unemployed and on welfare? Does tragedy never come to the working class? You obviously live in a different Augusta where factories and plants never close, and there are never any mass lay offs.
If we could replace selfishness and cynicism with compassion, this world would be a much better place.

Augusta resident
Augusta resident 03/21/08 - 12:10 am
A friend of mine went through

A friend of mine went through NACA. He had to take a short course and got 1% knocked off his rate. You don't need to have a problem to see them. I think you can refinance your house and get as much as 30% extra to pay off some bills. I might be a little off but it has saved a couple people I know. This is not a new program.

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