In the face of mounting foreclosures across South DeKalb ZIP codes, DeKalb County will be tackling head-on some of the issues that contribute to people losing their homes.
Starting this month and culminating with National Homeownership Month in June, the county will be sponsoring a number of educational efforts that will examine mortgage flipping and predatory lending and help alert industry professionals and consumers about what to be on the lookout for.
Chris Morris, director of the county's Human and Community Development Department, said that even with people losing their jobs because of a slow economy, it's difficult to discuss home ownership without talking about predatory lending and foreclosures.
"We have to keep the attention focused so that people understand what the issues are and the part they play," Morris said.
As 2003 shaped up as another record-breaking year for foreclosures in the county, Morris said CEO Vernon Jones and her office began last October working with HUD to find solutions to some of the underlining problems behind foreclosures.
Last year, there were 7,966 pending foreclosures in DeKalb, more than double the 3,591 pending foreclosures in 2000 that prompted HUD that year to declare a three-month moratorium on foreclosures.
Several months ago, Jones secured the assistance of Brian Noyes, HUD's regional director, in addressing DeKalb's staggering foreclosure numbers.
In March, along with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Bank and the state Department of Community Affairs, the county is launching a series of events that will not only promote home ownership, but also raise awareness about mortgage fraud and foreclosures.
On March 11, HUD and the county will host two workshops for industry professionals at the Decatur Holiday Inn. Morris said the 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. meetings are open to lenders, real estate sales agents, and home-buyer counseling services. They will provide information on mortgage fraud and other related issues.
Plans are being finalized for other events that will promote responsible home ownership, provide homebuyer education and increase community awareness.
For more information, call Chris Morris at 404-286-3308.