Solving problems is an attitude hard to find

The NYT carries a story about forclosures in a Baltimore neighborhood, and an outreach program to help people save their homes. I have quoted the part that interests me.

Statistics on foreclosure are snapshots of a moving phenomenon, and data from the state labor department show 174 foreclosures in Belair-Edison last year, while the Community Law Center, a nonprofit public service group, counted 181; both figures are well below the more than 275 foreclosures in 2001 and in 2002. Because of a difference in counting the 2006 figures, the state number represents an increase in 2007, but a decline over several years. Both agencies attribute the discrepancy to the inexact nature of counting foreclosures.

In the foreclosure crisis, lenders and borrowers both say the other has missed opportunities to save troubled loans. Lenders, who say they lose tens of thousands of dollars on every foreclosure, estimate that half of borrowers facing foreclosure never contact their lender, and many avoid the lender’s calls or letters. In turn, housing advocates say lenders are reluctant or unable to modify loans. A survey by Moody’s Investors Service found that 16 large servicers of subprime mortgages modified only 1 percent of loans that adjusted during three months studied last year.

“People are calling and they can’t get through to anyone at the servicer, and time is running out,” Mr. Perez said.

Both sides are hurt by this impasse.

On a recent Saturday morning, he led 11 aspiring first-time home buyers in a five-hour homeownership workshop. If they also attend his one-on-one counseling, they can qualify for up to $10,000 in public and private aid for down payments and closing costs.

In private, Mr. Miller talks forcefully about the predatory loans he has seen in this neighborhood. But to the class, he took a different tack.

“When people say it’s the banks, or it’s the lenders, or it’s the real estate agents — it’s not their fault. You’re the one who said, ‘I want it.’ ”