Make us your home page
Instagram

People in mortgage crisis get advice

TAMPA — Jose Lopez has five mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay. His pregnant wife was recently laid off her job, and they're a month behind their mortgage payments.

He brought his family to the Hunt Community Center at Al Lopez Park on Saturday, where financial advisers, bank representatives and nonprofit counselors helped about 600 cash-strapped residents discover ways they may be able to keep their homes.

The Foreclosure Assistance Workshop, hosted by Rep. Kathy Castor's office, is the first of its kind in the area, Castor said. She said she plans to host more, including one in St. Petersburg, which hasn't been scheduled yet.

Lopez was relieved to meet with a Wells Fargo Bank counselor in person, after sending faxes and making calls didn't get him anywhere. With three kids, a baby on the way and a scheduled eye surgery that will put him out of work for a bit, he needs quick solutions.

"It's tough right now," he said. "I'm worried. I don't want to lose my house."

Lopez's complaint that help is hard to come by is common, Castor said.

"We're hearing from folks that they're having trouble with their mortgage lenders," the Tampa Democrat said. "They're falling behind or they're about to, and they say it's hard to get help on the phone."

Help was face to face on Saturday. Representatives from nine lending companies sat in private rooms with laptops, looking up homeowners' information and advising them on their options.

Employees from Wells Fargo spoke to Lopez about his options, and he plans to follow up by calling on Tuesday. Saturday's workshop was just the first step in modifying homeowners' loans, said Robin Stout Migala, Freddie Mac's outreach manager.

"Generally, you can't do deals on the spot, but it gets the ball rolling," she said.

Counselors from nonprofit agencies also attended, including several from Tampa Bay Community Development Corporation, who helped calm frantic homeowners and dispel myths.

"People don't know that lenders really don't want their homes," counselor Dania Perez said. "They're lenders, not Realtors."

She encouraged people behind on their payments to contact their lenders. It's never too late, she said. The corporation's housing counselors have received more calls in the first half of 2008 than they did in either 2006 or 2007.

Attorney Ann Smith Pellegrino brought one of her clients from St. Petersburg to the workshop. She represents people in foreclosure, and she was happy to be able to look outside her firm for help for her client.

"Anything that helps clients find solutions," she said. "It doesn't have to come from the office."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

>>FAST FACTS

Foreclosure help

• Tampa Bay Community Development Corporation: (813) 849-1121 or (727) 446-6222; www.tampabaycdc.org

• U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: (813) 228-2026 or 1-800-569-4287; www.hud.gov

• Housing & Education Alliance: (813) 261-5151;

www.myhomeamerica.org

• Catholic Charities of St. Petersburg: (727) 893-1313;

www.ccdosp.org

• St. Petersburg Neighborhood Housing Services: (727) 821-6897; www.stpetenhs.org

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

People in mortgage crisis get advice 07/12/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 1:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  2. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks

    Business

    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]

  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Guilty plea for WellCare Health Plans former counsel Thaddeus Bereday

    Business

    Former WellCare Health Plans general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District …

    WellCare Health Plans former general counsel Thaddeus M.S. Bereday, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Florida Medicaid program, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set, acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida stated Wednesday. [LinkedIn handout]
  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes

    Transportation

    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community over the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at the DOT’s Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Avenue.