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Home Foreclosure Advice… On a Stick?

August 21, 2008

St. Paul, MN - Home foreclosures are projected to reach 28,000 in Minnesota by the end of this year, and nationally rates are hitting Depression-era levels. State officials are hoping to put a dent in those numbers with counseling.

Bill Walsh of the Department of Commerce says a foreclosure-advice booth set up at the State Fair allows people to get advice in a casual, approachable atmosphere.

"You can walk by the booth, approach our counselors, get some advice right there without making a big commitment, and then move on and get yourself a Pronto Pup."

The state is funding the counseling booth with money from a four million dollar federal grant to help fight the crisis. Walsh says state efforts should result in the prevention of 7,500 foreclosures this year.

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center will staff the Department of Commerce booth with 20 counselors over the 12 days of the fair, says the Center's Executive Director Julie Gugin.

"Learning about your mortgage, learning about the foreclosure situation, and most importantly, learning about how to avoid foreclosure, is critical information and we want to share that with as many people as possible."

Gugin says all the information will be kept confidential.

"We won't ask for names, addresses, or any other kinds of identifying information, so people can feel free to come and ask questions, remaining relatively anonymous."

Fair-goers can find the foreclosure counseling booth in the Education building on Cosgrove Street.

Marisa Helms/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MN