East Stroudsburg, Monroe County - More than 1,000 homeowners are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. It has been hard for many of them to find help. Some people have had to wait up to five months to see a housing counselor. But Friday, they got some much needed help.
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency organized a workshop with many nonprofit agencies to help people in desperate situations. It was a mortgage foreclosure workshop at East Stroudsburg University.
Everett Branch attended. He is in danger of losing his home in Tobyhanna. Branch told Eyewitness News he moved to the Poconos from Brooklyn in 2008. He wanted a better life. But things turned out much worse than he ever expected. He frowned, "I never hoped that this would happen but it's something that's a reality."
Like many buyers in the housing boom, Branch said he was a victim of an inflated appraisal. He paid more for the house than what it was worth. Then he said he learned his school taxes were miscalculated. When those numbers were fixed, his mortgage jumped. "It was a real challenge," he noted. Then Branch said he needed surgery and his newborn baby needed to be hospitalized. He said he couldn't afford to pay for medical bills and the mortgage. His house went into foreclosure. "There's a lot of stress involved," he added.
Branch said he tried to get help but he found himself in line behind hundreds of other people who were in the same situation. "The waiting lists are just tremendously long," he complained.
That's why he was thrilled to hear about the Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency's foreclosure workshop. Mike Brown is the Northwest Counseling Service Director of Business. He said, "We're gonna match them up with their mortgage company face to face and negotiate here on the spot."
It was set up as a one stop shop to help people in trouble. They can get help saving money on their energy bills, finding a job with CareerLink, or even credit counseling services."
Branch said, "I'm finding that I'm not alone. I'm finding that there are solutions to these problems. It's not the end of the world."
He will be one of the many people who work with Brown and the Bank to reach an agreement, an agreement that hopefully allows people to stay in their homes. Branch said, "It means everything in the world because I wanted to retire here in this community."
To help even more people, counselors will now be available at the Monroe County Bar Association five days a week.
You can also call the foreclosure hotline at 1-800-342-2397.