Vailsburg Leader

Seminars Planned On Foreclosures And The Growth Of Wealth

Vailsburg Leader / — Thursday, March 5, 2009

By Chris Sykes
Staff Writer

The Irvington Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will hold a seminar on home foreclosure and property taxes tonight from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Greater Newpoint Baptist Church on Paine Avenue.

The event, titled Avoiding Home Foreclosure and Addressing High Property Taxes, is something that Kathleen Witcher, president of the local NAACP branch, said is needed in the township now.

She said Mayor Wayne Smith, Business Administrator Wayne Bradley, Phyllis Salowe-Kaye of New Jersey Citizen Action and representatives from the Brand New Day organization will be on hand.

"Several people have contacted me asking for help in keeping their property," she said. "They feel they can't collect enough money in rent to meet their mortgages. Renters, on the other hand, are concerned that their rents are going to go up in response to the pressure being put on their landlords."

Witcher said even though the national discussion about the bad economy, subprime mortgage crisis and credit has focused on the problems facing homeowners, the "pain" is being felt everywhere.

She said the recent $787 billion economic stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Obama and his subsequent announcement of plans to help homeowners are a good start at the federal level. But, as the president said, local officials also have to get involved.

"As property taxes rise and mortgages go up, everybody is concerned with losing their homes," she said. "Owning a home is part of the American dream, so having your home foreclosed is the loss of a lifetime investment. We need to spread the word that there are ways to avoid foreclosure and keep your homes or stay in them, because a lot of people still don't know that."

Smith said he agrees with Witcher, and that is why his administration has sponsored a number of similar seminars aimed at helping homeowners through this fiscal crisis. These meetings have been held at the council chambers in the Municipal Building and also at the Senior Citizens Center on Springfield Avenue, among other locations.

That's also why At large Councilvvoman Andrea McElroy is hosting a financial management seminar, titled Growing Wealth in These Economic Times, on March 14 at the Waris Cultural Center on Howard Street from 2 to 4 p.m.

"Our guest speaker is going to be Ximenita Gonzalez from Bank of America," she said. "The fact is that bad times for one person can mean something good for someone else, and there are a lot of opportunities out there for people in the middle of these bad economic times. There will be information available to help people stay in their homes by refinancing or taking advantage of the different programs and services out there now to help them, .but people need to come out and get it."

McElroy said her event is free and open to the public. Witcher said her event is free, too, as they always are, and she stressed how important it was for people in trouble or facing the threat of foreclosure to come out and get the information they need.

"People are asking if the market value of their homes is still at the same level as they were valued in 2007." she said. "Some people want to know about getting reappraisals. All those questions and more will be answered at our event tonight." For more information about the NAACP program, call 973-371-5798.

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