66% of homeowners who seek foreclosure counseling cite job losses for trouble, Craig Wolf, Poughkeepsiejournal.com

Two-thirds of the people seeking foreclosure -prevention counseling in the major local program say it was their loss of jobs or income that got them in trouble.

And the majority of people counseled did not have subprime mortgages, but conventional, fixed-rate mortgages, according to Hudson River Housing Inc., a Poughkeepsie-based nonprofit.

The group said its count of counseled homeowners has exceeded 1,500 since beginning the program in 2008.

Mary Linge, director of home ownership and education, said that 66 percent of homeowners currently cite loss of jobs and reduced income as primary reasons they face foreclosure.

In foreclosure, a lender who isn’t being paid takes possession of the property.

Of those who have recently sought services, 79 percent have conventional loans, compared with 43 percent in late 2008 when the program began, Linge said.

“The foreclosure crisis is now largely being driven by economic pressures, not bad mortgage products,” Linge said.

Recent research by the Poughkeepsie Journal found that foreclosure filings in state Supreme Court rose in 2009 by nearly 20 percent over 2008. For the first seven months of this year, filings are on course to show a further 10 percent increase.

Hudson River Housing has received three federal grants totalling $308,602 for counseling people through the Hudson Valley Foreclosure Prevention Services.

Linge said the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program that has funded her group has done research on results nationally.

Homeowners who got counseling were 60 percent more likely to avoid losing their homes than people who did not seek help. Clients were more likely to get a loan modification and, on average, saved $454 a month on mortgage payments.

Reach Craig Wolf at cwolf@poughkeepsiejournal.com or 845-437-4815.

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