Home Preservation in Los Banos

February 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Not only does Los Banos lead in foreclosures, Merced County leads the United States in overall foreclosures per capita.Not only does Los Banos lead in foreclosures, Merced County leads the United States in overall foreclosures per capita.

With dire statistics like that locating a homeowner with one foot forced out the door is not hard.

Frank Johnson's foreclosure story is not unique; in fact he is one of nearly 3,000 homeowners over the last year in Los Banos who is losing his home.

"You go to sleep thinking about it, you wake up thinking about it, you eat thinking about it and it's constantly on your mind," said Johnson.

And there are constant reminders around town that Johnson's house could be the next one with a "For Sale" sign swinging out front.

But for Johnson and about 100 other residents there was only one sign that mattered to them Saturday morning, a sign leading to a home preservation workshop.

"The bridge in connecting the homeowner with either a housing counselor that serves as their advocate or negotiator with the lender or we're able to connect them with the lender specifically if they're here," said Vicky Solis with the Merced County of Education.

Homes in Los Banos used to run about $450-500,000.
Now a home owner is luck if they can get $200-250.000.
The consequences from this foreclosure epidemic have reached deep into the city's financial purse.

"The amount of money you have for the city to function falls drastically and that means you're gonna have to cut programs or you're gonna have to cut people," said Mayor Tommy Jones.

Jones said bankruptcy is not an option for Los Banos which is why he supports workshops like this and residents like Johnson stepping up to get help.

"Every avenue is acceptable in a situation like this," said Johnson.

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