With more than $120 million in federal foreclosure prevention money on the way to Ohio, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said an auction held last night of 34 Toledo area properties was premature.
"The money for our local government hasn't come from Washington yet," Miss Kaptur said during a news conference in the lobby of the Dana Conference Center at the University of Toledo health science campus.
"I'm very concerned that this auction is proceeding ahead of the opportunity for us to do local work-outs."
The backdrop for Miss Kaptur's remarks was an auction of foreclosed homes set to begin moments later at the Dana Center by Hudson & Marshall, an auctioneer from Dallas.
Miss Kaptur said she learned of the auction from an article yesterday in The Blade and noticed that homes involved were acquired in foreclosures by such major institutions as Citimortgage, Deutsche Bank, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank.
She said she was stunned by the article, in part because legislation she supported will bring about $12 million to Toledo later this year from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
"I had voted for legislation in Washington to move dollars to the local community, to commit those homes to be worked out in the local real estate community," she said.
She urged Lucas County's sheriff and the clerk of courts to find "a way within the law to delay the foreclosures until the federal assistance can arrive. That we first prevent foreclosures and then, if they absolutely have to happen, that these properties recirculate inside the local community itself," instead of being snapped up by outside investors.
She urged President-elect Barack Obama to call for a moratorium on foreclosures of at least 90 days.
"I hope the new president will say something very soon about this foreclosure crisis as Congress considers the stimulus package in the recovery bill that we're likely to take up in mid-November," Miss Kaptur said. "This foreclosure issue is at the heart of the economic crisis right now, and we're still hemorrhaging."
Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz said the number of foreclosures for the year likely will set a record.
"It's a scary time for people in our community," said Mr. Kapszukiewicz, who is co-chairman of the Lucas County Foreclosure Prevention and Intervention Task Force.
"They're worried about losing their jobs, worried about losing their homes, worried about losing their life savings given the chaos on Wall Street."
He said that homeowners have rights and options.
"You should stay in your home as long as you possibly can," he said. "Even after your home has been foreclosed upon, you have the right to stay in your home."
He said that at least half of all foreclosures can be avoided by contacting the mortgage company.
He said information about resources and rights for people who want to stay in their homes is available from the 211 hot line operated by the United Way of Greater Toledo.
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