Foreclosure prevention event draws dozens despite economic upswing

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Although real estate experts say the number of home foreclosures in Phoenix is at its lowest point in a decade, dozens of families attended a foreclosure prevention workshop Thursday night.

"If they can't make their house payments, there are programs that will help catch them up," said Sergio Arellano of the Arizona Attorney General's Office, which helped put on the event.

Workshop participants ranged from young families to retirees with various reasons for their financial struggles including costly medical bills, rising utility costs, and unemployment.

"Utilities are going up, food is going up, gasoline is killing us," Sun City resident Patricia Larson said. "Everything is up except for your Social Security."

Larson and her husband are retired and are trying to lower their mortgage payment by refinancing their home.

"Most people are ashamed at this point in life so they don't talk to anybody about it. They just get into trouble and then you sign the go up that they're in foreclosure," Larson said.

Other attendees, like Peoria resident Elizabeth Stewart, are still "underwater" on their homes, meaning they owe more money than their homes are worth.

Stewart, who purchased her home 15 years ago, has postponed her retirement the last three years so she could keep up with her bills.

"I'm hoping to get guidance on what I can do to keep us in the house. I want to keep it.  It's where all the family meets," she said.

Event organizers said they are usually able to help more than half of the people who attend the workshop.

More information on mortgage assistance can be found on the Arizona Attorney General's Office website.