Stopping a foreclosure

March 23, 2009 4:12:26 PM PDT
Just over a week ago we told you about a Houston woman in her 80s who was close to losing her home to foreclosure.Thanks to the overwhelming response from our viewers, the home has been saved. But an even greater need has been uncovered. It turns out dozens of seniors face the same fate. Retirement is not supposed to be a time of great stress, but for dozens of seniors every month in Harris County, this time brings foreclosure.

"It is not unusual, it's not unusual at all, it's a shame," said realtor Michael Weaster.

Weaster has been selling foreclosures for decades and has rarely seen a month go by without a senior citizen who owes less than $10,000 on a home lose it because they can't pay the bills anymore.

"There are plenty of seniors out there who need help," he said.

And it turns out plenty of people are willing to help. We had a large response after recently airing a story about a woman in her 80s facing foreclosure. Some people even wanted to pay off the entire balance. But getting those who want to help in touch with those in need is not an easy task.

"There are a lot of people out there willing to help," Weaster told us. "A lot of individuals unfortunately have not seen any organization or group come forward and say let us know."

One agency that sees needy seniors everyday is Sheltering Arms. The workers there are not surprised that seniors are losing homes.

"I suspect people think that older adults have pretty much paid for their homes, they have been in there for 50 or 60 years," said Jane Bavineau with the agency. "I would be willing to bet that they are surprised to find that someone is this close to paying things off and getting themselves in trouble."

Sheltering Arms does have limited funds to help seniors facing financial trouble including foreclosures or back tax bills or even getting a vacuum cleaner, but that fund is nearly dry.

"We see a whole host of issues for which people would assume that people have the resources to meet the need and they don't," Bavineau said.

We talked to several foundations and government agencies about this issue and there are some concerned groups looking into possible solutions.

For those of you who need help or want to help, there is at least one non-profit where you can turn. There is a fund called the flexible funding pool and it's money from the United Way that can be used to help meet certain needs for the elderly and mortgage help would be included. Don't think they are going to pay off every home. You have to have tried all other options and be working with a case manager.

If you want to find out more or want to help as so many said they did, we have a link on my Consumer Blog.

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