Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: United Housing

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The foreclosure crisis threatens entire neighborhoods - even here in Memphis.

When four or five houses on the same block flip from single family home owners to renters, all too often a downward spiral ensues.  To combat the problem, a Memphis non-profit agency helps people avoid foreclosure and has been Taking Back Our Neighborhoods for fifteen years.
Tim Bolding's non-profit United Housing has helped nearly 1,500 marginal home buyers achieve the American dream with a default rate of only 5 percent!

"Getting in a house is one thing.  Being a sustainable home owner is another," he said in a recent interview.

Ninety-five percent of Bolding's clients have managed to avoid foreclosure by taking United Housings' home buyer education classes, which stress proper budgeting and finding an affordable mortgage that does not include terms like adjustable rates or balloon payments.

"As I say, 'plain vanilla,'" Bolding said.  "That's all I want you to have is a plain vanilla loan.  Nothing exotic.  Nothing that's going to trick you later."

For those trapped in foreclosure, United has housing counselor Emily Clark:

"I have probably three new clients everyday, and tons of calls," she said.

Clark can sometimes help foreclosure clients work out a loan modification or re-payment plan, or perhaps a deal to sell a house before the bank gets it.

Bolding said it's critical those facing the threat of foreclosure call their lender as soon as is possible to explain their situation, but nearly half never do.

"Services and lenders are more willing to have a conversation with you today than they ever have been," Bolding said. "They don't really want your house. But they're getting them right and left. So all of a sudden, they're saying, 'Let's work this out.'"

United also builds new houses, renovates existing homes, and offers them for sale. Another program helps those on the margins obtain a second mortgage to pay closing costs up to $5,000. It's a combination that is Taking Back Our Neighborhoods one house at a time!

United Housing is hosting a home ownership fair Saturday.

It is free and will help you prevent foreclosure, learn about non-profit housing providers, and there will be workshops with Home Depot.

It is at the Pipkin Building at the Mid-South Fairgrounds from 11-3 on Saturday.

Click here to e-mail Joe Birch.