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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Clergy and Town Officials Help Homeowners at Risk

This post has been included in this week's Carnival of Personal Finance #185 Cheesehead Edition hosted by The Fraud Files Blog and was also given a special mention at the Festival of Frugality #158 hosted by The Well Run Dry. After you poke around here a bit, and subscribe to my RSS feed if you like what you see, please visit these sites for more great posts.

Photo by KitAy

A town in Massachusetts held an innovative event to help homeowners in financial distress earlier this month.

The program, called "Neighbors Helping Neighbors," aimed to provide resources to homeowners having trouble meeting mortgage payments. And while the turnout for the event was small, the organizers, who included clergy from seven local churches plus local officials, are planning to build on the event. The rise in foreclosures of 68 percent in their community this year literally hit home.

The problem is one of stigma--In a middle-class suburb, it isn't OK to tell people that you may lose your house. I understand it perfectly; it is why I write under a pseudonym.

Mortgage lenders, tax officials, and representatives from local food pantries all participated to let people know that help was available for them. I found it particularly interesting that many municipalities have tax relieve programs available that may help homeowners temporarily if they can't make their total payments.

Religious communities, of course, have long provided charitable support for those in need. What I find fabulous about this program is that it trains the resources of people from multiple faiths to address a common problem. The program isn't expensive--it just provides information and outreach about resources that already exist.

And while I'm sensitive to the issue of inappropriate merging of church and state, I think this kind of cooperative effort is to be lauded, but even better, to be duplicated. Communities can take care of their own if they know that there are problems.

Gotta love a program where compassion rather than blame is the order of the day.

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1 comment:

Monroe on a budget said...

Monroe, Mich., had such an event in March 2008. I picked up lots of information at the program that led to blog posts.