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More NC Homeowners Opt to Fight Foreclosure – with Help

December 12, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - The Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Cumberland County sees 200 people a month who are seeking help in avoiding foreclosure. That's a 20 percent increase from last year. The nonprofit service has a 98-percent success rate for keeping people in their homes.

Between unexpected job losses and a depressed housing market, says Cynthia Wilson, CEO of the Cumberland County Community Action Agency, many of the people they now serve were considered 'middle class' not too long ago.

"Someone who has the experience of being middle class doesn't necessarily know all the resources that are available to those who have a low income. It's quite an adjustment."

Help available for North Carolinians, Wilson says, by just making an appointment with a credit counselor. In most cases, a person facing foreclosure can be granted a 30-day stay in the process, she explains. Programs like the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund also offer interest-free loans to people to pay their mortgages while they work to find employment, she adds.

Cumberland County has the fifth-highest foreclosure rate in the state. Mecklenberg County ranks first.

Wilson says her agency is seeing renewed vigor from homeowners who don't want to give up their property without a fight.

"It's something like you see in the energy of Occupy Wall Street. People say, 'We want to fix it, we want to keep our homes. We're not just gonna say that, because someone says 'no,' that's the end of it.' "

Consumer Credit Counseling Services are free to homeowners, supported by grants and some public funding. The 36 community action agencies around the state also connect people with emergency food, housing and heating assistance. A list of the agencies is online at www.nccaa.net.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC