The news about the housing market has been a constant stream of bad news over the last several years. Housing values have plummeted. Foreclosures have risen exponentially. Many families have lost their homes, and their sense of security. The American Dream of owning a home has been severely damaged.
I live in Arizona, a state that has been especially hit hard by the housing crisis. Through my work at a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development certified housing counseling agency, I have seen first-hand the devastation to families that lose their home. My agency, Old Pueblo Community Services, provides free default and foreclosure prevention counseling services to home owners in need. Not a day goes by that another family calls, and tells me a story about their hardship, pain, and shame of losing their home.
It is my role to help our community, Tucson, dig out of the deep hole that was created by the housing bust. My staff and I advocate for families that must navigate a foreclosure process that is at best confusing, and is often times frustrating and absurd. It is not easy to explain to a single mother who recently lost her job, or a veteran returning from serving our country, why their bank is sending them a letter offering to modify their loan one day and threatening them with eviction the next.
I know that I speak for the housing counselors at Old Pueblo Community Services when I say that our work is challenging and sometimes trying. However, we are all grateful for the opportunity to help our community and the families that have done nothing wrong except lose a job, or have the value of their homes drop by 50%.
I am glad to say that I see a glimmer of hope in 2012 and beyond. The American Dream that was tarnished by the housing crisis is beginning to regain some of its luster. For example, my agency is helping first-time home buyers with down payment assistance funds through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).
There are still many families that need our help, and the housing crisis is certainly not over. However, I believe the work of Old Pueblo Community Services and other HUD certified agencies is making a difference.
Terry Galligan serves as the Housing Director for Old Pueblo Community Services.