Final foreclosure numbers for 2011 are in. According to the Erie County Sheriffs Department, the number of properties scheduled for foreclosure this year are way below the number for previous years.
Part of the credit goes to Erie's St. Martin center. The agency helps people avoid foreclosure.
"My staff has had some really good success so far this year. We've been able to save 100 people from losing their homes. And that's a pretty good feeling," said David Pesch, Housing Counseling Manager.
That good feeling goes away fast when staff members think about what's happened the past few weeks. On July 1, funding ran out on a state program to help people avoid fore closure On October 1, the same thing will happen to a federal program. Four programs, in all, have been eliminated recently due to budget cuts.
"It's hard because my staff, they all have very good hearts," said Pesch. "They really put themselves out there for the consumer. We're trying to be creative and still see people. But we will get to the point, in the near future, that we will probably have to start turning people away because of lack of funding."
What makes the staff at the St. Martin Center truly upset is that the government money was not a handout. The governments would have been paid back eventually.
"It makes no sense at all," says Pesch.
Efforts to help people avoid foreclosure should be important to everyone. Experts say if a house is for sale due to foreclosure, it brings down the property value to neighboring homes.
The staff at St. Martin Center are also concerned that scam artists will take over if the agency no longer is able to offer free foreclosure counseling.