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Friday, September 19, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 5/9/2010

The face of foreclosure

KEITH Sadler was going to be kicked out of his home, so he made a statement. His cry is echoed by thousands of people locally and hundreds of thousands nationally whose homes are foreclosed on each month.

Mr. Sadler's story is typical. He fell behind on his mortgage payments last year because of medical problems. His property was foreclosed on and he was ordered out of the home he bought from his father 12 years ago.

But instead of finding someplace else to live, Mr. Sadler sealed himself inside his house in Stony Ridge, about 12 miles south of Toledo in Wood County. He was arrested Friday and carried out in handcuffs by sheriff's deputies. He knew he didn't have a legal leg to stand on. He just wanted to make a point: As banks watch out for their bottom lines and politicians dither, people suffer.

Nearly 2,600 housing units in metropolitan Toledo got foreclosure notices in the first three months of 2010. That's about one out of every 116, according to realtytrac.com, a Web site that keeps track of national foreclosure statistics. That rate was up 7.5 percent from the first quarter of 2009 and nearly 15 percent higher than in the same period of 2008.

Nationally, a record 2.8 million homes were foreclosed on last year. Realtytrac.com expects even more foreclosures this year. A projected 1 million individuals and families stand to lose their properties in 2010.

Federal efforts to stem the foreclosure tide have been ineffective. According to the congressional oversight panel that keeps an eye on government bailouts, three-quarters of home-

owners who qualify for mortgage relief owe more on their properties than they are worth. Those owners are at greater risk of falling behind on or walking away from their mortgages.

The Obama Administration's latest plan of temporary relief from mortgage payments for unemployed Americans and of reducing mortgage principal for "underwater" owners won't begin until fall. That will be too late for thousands of homeowners.

A new state law allows many counties, including Lucas County, to acquire abandoned or foreclosed properties. That is a useful tool for keeping distressed neighborhoods from declining further, but it is not a substitute for keeping people from losing their homes in the first place.

Broader action is required. Mr. Sadler and thousands more Americans in similar situations want a hand up, not a handout. Mr. Sadler portrayed himself as the face of the housing crisis. Did anyone notice?



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