Campaigns to counter growing foreclosures

WASHINGTON: As economists debate the effects of subprime mortgages on the US economy - last month foreclosures rose 47% and home sales dropped 8.4% compared with a year ago - homeowner advocacy groups are launching educational and activism campaigns to stem the damage of what they say are predatory lending practices.

WASHINGTON: As economists debate the effects of subprime mortgages on the US economy - last month foreclosures rose 47% and home sales dropped 8.4% compared with a year ago - homeowner advocacy groups are launching educational and activism campaigns to stem the damage of what they say are predatory lending practices.

NeighborWorks director of media relations Douglas Robinson said his group, in partnership with the Mortgage Bankers Association and other groups, is in the midst of outreach to personal finance and real estate writers around the country to encourage them to better explain to readers what options they have for renegotiating mortgages. NeighborWorks also plans to launch an Ad Council campaign in the next six weeks with a similar theme, along with additional PR work, including presentations at an upcoming conference of the Society for American Business Editors and Writers.

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), meanwhile, plans to take a more activist approach to the problem of foreclosures, launching a door-to-door grassroots campaign this month to encourage neighborhood and city-wide community groups in the 100 or so cities ACORN has a presence to seek year-long moratoriums by state attorneys general against foreclosures resulting from what it said are predatory lending practices.

"If it turns out there are lots of people that got horrible loans from one particular broker, then we maybe [will] target that one broker with protests," said Jordan Ash, director of the ACORN financial justice center. "Or there may be one or two law firms that are handling the foreclosures that we target."

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), which earlier this year launched its "Good Time to Buy" campaign touting the long-term benefits of homeownership, said it also has been working to educate members on good lending practices and buyers on the importance of using reputable brokers.

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