Durham Launches Campaign to Prevent Home Foreclosures June 26


10 a.m. News Conference Immediately Followed by Roundtable Discussion

Durham, N.C. – Tony and Mary Garrett were facing foreclosure and the loss of their home thanks to a high-cost subprime loan.  With assistance by a nonprofit counseling agency and early intervention, the loan was modified and the couple’s home was saved. 

Unfortunately, their happy ending is not the case for many Durham residents facing home foreclosure.  According to the North Carolina Administration of Courts, there have been 729 foreclosures in Durham between January 1, 2008 and May 31, 2008.  In response to this national crisis that is hitting home in Durham, the City of Durham’s Departments of Neighborhood Improvement Services and Community Development along with the Neighborhood Pride Alliance are launching a public education campaign to encourage homeowners in financial trouble to seek assistance early. 

The kick-off event, featuring the Garrett Family, will begin with a news conference on Thursday, June 26, 2008, at 10 a.m. at the Durham Association of REALTORS®, located at 4236 University Drive, Durham.  Immediately following the news conference, leaders from Durham City and County government, neighborhoods, nonprofits, local and federal agencies, banks, realtors, and homebuilders will participate in a roundtable to discuss the impact of foreclosures on neighborhoods, the causes, remedies for borrowers, and preventative policy responses.  The roundtable will be facilitated by Peter Skillern, executive director of Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina and co-author of Empty Houses and Broken Dreams, an analysis of the impact of foreclosures one Durham neighborhood.

Participants in Thursday’s roundtable include Durham City Councilman Farad Ali, Durham County Commissioner Chairwoman Ellen Reckhow, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Neighborhood Pride Alliance, N.C. Housing Finance Office, SunTrust Bank, N.C. Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Durham Regional Association of Realtors, City’s Department of Neighborhood Improvement Services, N.C. Realtors Association, Durham Regional Community Development Group, Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties and the City’s Department of Community Development.  

According to Martha McNair, a real estate broker, financial advisor and a member of the Neighborhood Pride Alliance, addressing Durham’s foreclosure situation is a must to help homeowners in financial crisis.  “Our market has seen a significant rise in foreclosures.  Soaring fuel prices, job losses and instability have caused many of our residents to find themselves trapped in the foreclosure process,” McNair said.  “This roundtable will kick off a series of events in the coming months to bring immediate and urgent attention to the dire need for consumer education.  Understanding credit, formulating budgets and general money management practices are integral to pulling our nation out of this crisis.”

Glyndola Beasley, executive director for Durham Regional Community Development Group and a member of the Neighborhood Pride Alliance, believes that helping homeowners ultimately helps the entire Durham community.  “We’re reviewing original loan documents and they reveal that many homeowners were set up for failure from the beginning,” Beasley said.  “Not since the Great Depression have we seen this scale of huge, impending home foreclosures and as the problem grows, new strains are placed on our national and local economies, which are already strapped financial systems.”

For more information about Thursday’s event, contact Cynthia Mebane-Watts, community relations coordinator with the City’s Department of Neighborhood Improvements Services, at (919) 560-4570 or via e-mail at cynthia.mebane-watts (at) durhamnc (dot) gov.

About the Neighborhood Pride Alliance
Approximately one year ago, the City’s Department of Neighborhood Improvement Services formed a task force to address various community issues facing Durham.  As a result, the Targeted Neighborhood Revitalization Task Force was created to focus on three areas within Durham – North East Central Durham, South West Central Durham and the Southside/St. Theresa area.  The task force selected as its name “Neighborhood Pride Alliance.”  The Neighborhood Pride Alliance has three standing committees:  Preservation, Education, and Development, Resource and Investment.  Each one of these standing committees has chosen special projects to address in the Durham community.  The Education Committee has selected as its first project to address home foreclosure increases in Durham. 

About the Department of Neighborhood Improvement Services
The Department of Neighborhood Improvement Services is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Durham’s residents by increasing access to safe, livable housing and by improving the city’s physical environment.  For more information, visit the City’s Web site at www.durhamnc.gov/departments/nis.


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