Lost paperwork, telephone stalling, holding property in foreclosure even though you're making the repayments – Rep. Tina Kotek says she has heard it all from her constituents trying to deal with home foreclosure after a job loss.
Tonight she's bringing U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer to hear your stories too, and hold a brainstorming session on how to stop it.
The event is 6 - 8 pm at the St. Johns Community Center, 8427 N. Central St. in Portland.
Kotek notes that federal funding is already in the pipeline to help homeowners who have lost their jobs during the recession, but that no decision has been made so far about exactly how to use it — another thing residents can weigh in on.
"I have been hearing a lot from constituents about the challenges they're been having, facing foreclosure and their inability to get help either through the loan modifications or other help," she said.
Kotek says foreclosure programs exist on the local, state and national levels, and it's time to gauge their effectiveness.
"Congressman Blumenauer is going to join me for the town hall and it will be our way of not only sharing what resources are out there so people can find out about new resources and existing resources, but also to hear from them what is their story what are their challenges, what are they facing, how can we be more helpful," she said.
Kotek, who lives in the Kenton neighborhood, says there are almost 200 foreclosed homes in her zip code alone.
"I know that families area struggling, I know it's particularly hit African American households and Latino households very, very hard because of predatory loan products that were part of the market for the last five years," Kotek said
Of the roughly $100 million coming into the state as part of the recently-passed unemployment assistance from the federal government, Kotek says a portion will be used for foreclosure assistance.
She anticipates a new program will be set up this fall, looking at helping with loan modifications for people falling behind because they've lost their job.
"What we're hearing is if you have no income, it's very difficult to get your loans modified," she said. "We're trying to figure out how to help people who don't have any income right now at home -- that's the big problem right now in Oregon, the housing market finally catches up with the nation in terms of home prices are dropping, but people also don't have any income, and that's a very difficult situation to be in."
She said the state may be looking next year at new laws on how banks treat consumers in foreclosure.
"We're trying to insure greater transparency in the foreclosure process, the types of things that banks have to disclose to people, but we're still having problems," Kotek said. "Lot of people not getting the response they need from the banks, and we're trying to figure that out.
"Because that's what I hear from my constituents: I do everything right, they lose my paperwork, I send it again, they lose it again, they keep holding me in foreclosure even though I'm making payments -- so trying to find out why the process isn't working for people I think is really important right now."
Kotek said another critical issue is to bring people together who are going through the foreclosure process.
"The most important thing is to hear their stories, to let us know what they're dealing with, because what I hear is they're ashamed to come forward and talk about it because they think they're alone and not anybody else is facing this," Kotek said.
"The message is a lot of people are facing this and we need to get everyone's collective wisdom together and to figure out how to deal with it."