Beth Johnson still is a Mankato, Minn., homeowner — thanks to a program that helped her make payments when she had financial difficulties related to her son's ear surgery. In September 2002, CNN featured the Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota's foreclosure prevention program (www.lssmn.org).
The agency makes 0 percent interest loans up to $5,500 to homeowners who fall behind due to difficulties such as Johnson's.
But it's not just medical expenses that cause people to miss mortgage payments, says Jody Anderson, director of the organization's consumer credit counseling service. The income bracket the program serves has expanded as the economy has soured. "We're serving people who have modest homes and modest mortgage payments as well as those with not-so-modest homes and large payments," she says. "The economic downturn is really starting to bring a whole lot more people into trouble with their mortgages."
In the last quarter of 2002, the agency counseled 210 households with a median household income of $34,000 in 60 mostly rural Minnesota counties.
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