Learn how to keep your home

HOUSTON According to a foreclosure listing service, there have been 12,000 foreclosure filings so far this year in the Houston area. But there is help available if you know here to turn.

The city of Houston and the nonprofit agency ACORN are offering free services to those in danger of losing their homes.

When she first got her mortgage, Julie Gutierrez paid $444 a month. The loan did not include an escrow account and when the taxes came due that's when the trouble started.

"They wanted $1,431," she said.

Unable to meet the new payment, Gutierrez tried to re-negotiate with her finance company.

"I had to pay $14,000 down and $2,600 a month," Gutierrez said.

With no way to come up with that kind of cash, Gutierrez says she was days away from losing her home to foreclosure.

"I had nowhere to go," she said. "I was thinking to myself, back to mom's house? With two kids and a husband I said 'wow, it's kind of sad.'"

That's when she turned to ACORN, a non-profit agency offering free help to those facing foreclosure.

"There are many things people can do, but they just don't know," said Houston contractor Robert Williams.

Robert Williams is a housing councilor who works to keep people in their homes.

"There can be work outs, loan modifications, forbearance plans, partial claims," said Williams.

The aid offered to Gutierrez will be available to hundreds of others Saturday when ACORN and the city of Houston combine forces to fight foreclosures.

"The one thing you don't want to do is sit there and do nothing, because we know what will happen if you do nothing, they are going to foreclosure on your house," said Houston Mayor Bill White.

The help is even available to those just days away from losing a home.

"We had clients come to us a day before their sale," said Adriana Vasquez of ACORN.

The agency is able to negotiate new loans with lenders or get grace periods, it is the real help that Julie Gutierrez needed.

For more information on this Saturday's Foreclosure Fair, go to the Consumer Blog.

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