JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Mary Williams bought her house in 2003 and like many in Jacksonville was struggling to get by to keep the house when the housing market bottomed out.
"I had depleted my 401K just making payments," Williams said. "I was all out of money there. There was nothing else I could do."
What she did do last year was head to the Prime Osborn Convention Center and take advantage of a mortgage relief program. She said it saved her thousands of dollars and brought her interest rate down to 2 percent when a rate reduction was done on her current mortgage.
That same program is being offered again this week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday at the convention center, something Rep. Corrine Brown says many local residents should consider.
"You don't have to be in foreclosure," Brown said. "You know you are struggling with that mortgage. Don't be a victim and take charge."
With Jacksonville ranked as having the most foreclosures per capita in the country, Mayor Alvin Brown says this help is vital. Right now according to RealtyTrac, there are about 16,000 homes in the city in some stage of foreclosure.
"I want to make sure people get a chance to stay in their home, those in foreclosure struggling to pay their mortgage," the mayor said. "While the economy has gotten better, we are looking at 30,000 people looking for homes."
The program will also help people buy homes with a competitive interest rate.
"It has a major impact on our economic base, our tax base," Alvin Brown said. "It hurts the value of a home. Property taxes have gone down. It's bringing in less revenue. We want to stabilize our neighborhoods and stabilize the city, and this is a way of doing it."
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