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Home Foreclosures - Time for Lawmakers to Act

I really enjoy my patio on a sunny day especially after a morning of weeding, sweeping and watering. Ah! The joys of homeownership! There's always something to paint, screw in or unclog.

Many of you can relate to having a home that you've work hard to save for and to keep up. We've been told it's the American dream. It's within those four walls that you can really relax, bond with those you love or just be. The current home mortgage crisis is assaulting that sense of security. In central Ohio and across the state, the number of foreclosures is on the upswing, following a disturbing national trend. According to foreclosure experts, over 2,900 central Ohio homes went into foreclosure in August, up 37 percent from July.

Families facing this emergency come from all sides of the economic spectrum. A single mom who just wanted a safer place for her kids. The double income power couple who wanted a golf course view from their Mac Mansion. All comers were enticed by constant offers from lenders happy to pump mortgage money into their pockets. Home builders, bankers and even retailers made lots of money, which fueled the growth of the sub-prime lending market. This free market bonanza was bound to catch up with reality.

The signs of trouble on the home front have been apparent for a long time. Think about all the mortgage offers from telemarketers flooding into our homes up until a few months ago. I remember official looking letters arriving daily from fly-by-night companies promising that I could get $250,000 in about a week. Some of the offers seemed legitimate. And I admit I did think about a few. But my gut told me that these deals were too good to be true.

Unfortunately, a lot of people fell for the hype. Maybe they thought they would have a better job before their monthly payments exploded from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. Or maybe they were victims of overly aggressive sub-prime lenders who would do anything to close the deal including falsifying documents to make a potential buyer look like a good risk. In any case, the rubber has met the road and now everyone is being affected by this crisis.

In my neighborhood, I've seen a rise in the number of foreclosures for the last five years. My neighborhood grew from builders who targeted first time home buyers. Job loss, divorce or plain old bad financial decisions have caused there to being at least one foreclosed house on each street.

I know there are people out there who blame the troubled homeowners. I agree that we all have to take responsibility for good and bad choices we make. But what's the consequence for all of us if we just standby and watch these head-on financial crashes?

This is why I think we should support the state's intervention efforts. The governor's Foreclosure Task Force has come up with some good remedies for stemming the tide. The problem is that these proposals have to now travel down the slow road of the legislative process. Meanwhile, non-profit foreclosure counseling agencies are being overrun with people facing the loss of their home today. The American dream has become a nightmare for these families. Let's hope that our leaders are now ready to take on this challenge sooner rather than later.