Make us your home page

Homeowners flock to Tampa workshop to hear advice on weathering the housing crisis

TAMPA — Angela Soto was having trouble making mortgage payments on the Tampa home she bought five years ago during the real estate boom.

She was afraid it might be foreclosed, so she called a company that promised to help modify her loan.

Soto, 30, paid the company $1,500, but nothing has changed since February, she said. And after listening to officials at a meeting Saturday warn against paying companies up front, she's afraid she may have been duped.

Soto joined about 200 other people who sought advice at Attorney General Bill McCollum's workshop, organized to help homeowners through the housing crisis.

They packed the courtroom at Stetson Law School's Tampa campus and jotted down notes as lawyers, real estate experts and financial advisers spoke.

Karen Jackson-Sims of the Tampa office of the Housing and Urban Development Department talked about a recent expansion of the Making Homes Affordable program.

Homeowners who are current on their payments but up to 125 percent "underwater" on their mortgages, and have mortgages currently owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, can refinance, she said.

She also encouraged home­owners to make an appointment with HUD-approved housing counselors.

That's what Soto plans to do. As her 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter snacked on candy in the exhibit area, she spoke with a HUD official.

She also plans to call the attorney general's fraud hotline to report the loan modification company.

"Something should be worked out," she said, smiling.

Tampa's town hall meeting was the first hosted by the Office of the Attorney General. McCollum said he plans to set up several more throughout the state.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 661-2443.


Housing help

• Department of Housing and Urban Development: (813) 228-2026 or 1-800-569-4287;

• Bay Area Legal Services: (813) 232-1343 or (727) 490-4040;

• Fraud hotline: 1-866-966-7226.

Florida Housing Help workshop

What: A workshop hosted by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

When: Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Enoch Davis Community Center, 1111 18th Ave. S, St. Petersburg.

Details: Meet with lenders, housing counselors, credit counseling services.

Homeowners flock to Tampa workshop to hear advice on weathering the housing crisis 08/15/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 15, 2009 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.