Housing Authority expands its help with foreclosures

Last year, 68 out of 75 foreclosure counselors in Colorado operated in metro Denver or in cities north of the capital.

That left seven counselors to handle the rest of the state, with one in Grand Junction and one or two in Durango.

A $50,000 Housing and Urban Development grant awarded to the Grand Junction Housing Authority this year has allowed the nonprofit to take some pressure off lone Grand Junction foreclosure counselor Amy Case.

The Housing Authority has hired a second, full-time foreclosure counselor and an administrative assistant with grant dollars and will be able to offer more foreclosure prevention, reverse mortgage and home-buyer counseling opportunities.

As of Feb. 8, the grant also has allowed the authority to take calls to the Colorado Foreclosure Hot Line from Mesa County or Garfield County residents. Before, all calls statewide were handled by metro Denver-based counselors.

Mesa and Garfield county callers are offered advice about the foreclosure process and can schedule a face-to-face meeting with a nearby counselor, something Case sees as an advantage over sending callers to Denver.

“When you’re doing things by phone and fax, I’m not sure it’s quite the same as meeting with someone in your own community,” Case said.

Foreclosure Hot Line Manager Stephanie Riggi agreed there’s a benefit to a local touch.

“We are excited to finally be able to connect callers from Mesa County to an agency in their own community,” she said in a statement.

Riggi said late last year that calls to the hot line from Mesa County had increased, while areas closer to hot line headquarters were recovering from a two-year period of high foreclosure rates.

Case said this year is looking better in Mesa County, with an 18.6 percent decrease in foreclosure filings year-over-year in January. But foreclosures sales, which mark the end of the foreclosure process, increased nearly 13 percent year-over-year in January.

“It definitely doesn’t appear to be trending worse, but we’d really like to see a more significant turnaround in the months to come,” Case said.

The foreclosure hot line boasts four out of five people who call get out of foreclosure before a sale. The hot line’s number is 1-877-601-1056.


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