Local Communities Struggle With Empty Houses

June 25, 2009

The Suburban Journals recently followed a Collinsville community service officer as she made her rounds citing houses desperately in need of maintenance.  Community service officers monitor neglected homes and unkept yards.  Since the mortgage crisis and the subsequent rise in foreclosures, their job has gotten a lot more difficult.  Communities all over Missouri are struggling with how to handle abandoned and foreclosed homes. 

To read more about what Collinsville and other local communities are doing about empty homes, CLICK HERE

In tough times, it’s especially important to help our neighbors.  If there are vacant or abandoned properties in your neighborhood, do your part to keep your neighborhood safe—you can rake leaves, mow the lawn, or just pick up trash to keep homes clean. 

For volunteer opportunities in your area, call United Way’s 2-1-1 referral service at (800) 427-4626.

Do you have stories to share about volunteering in your neighborhood?  Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you.


Finding Your Way Out of a Scam: Dawn Walters Describes Her Experience

June 24, 2009

Facing foreclosure last year, Dawn sought help and found a company that was “very willing” to “help”.  As months went by, Dawn realized that the company was taking advantage of her. She paid the company large up-front and monthly fees without results.

Dawn searched for help again and found Beyond Housing.  Their free support and counseling allowed her to keep her home.  Watch Dawn talk about the free help she found at Beyond Housing in the video below.

Legitimate housing counseling agencies won’t contact you or send advertisements. You should be wary of any company that charges for housing counseling and/or seeks you out.

If you or someone you know is facing foreclosure, contact a HUD-certified housing counseling agency to seek help.  To find one, call United Way’s 2-1-1 referral service at (800) 427-4626


New Bill Proposes to Fight Vacant Properties

June 22, 2009

The city of St. Louis is leading the country in the number of empty houses per person. Recently, this number has grown even more due to the increase in foreclosures brought on by the mortgage crisis.  Empty homes lead to crime and can ruin entire neighborhoods.  The city of St. Louis is now working to fight this growing problem. 

Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on a bill presented to the city’s Board of Aldermen.  The bill requires that owners of vacant buildings register those buildings and pay a fee each year the property remains empty.  To read the entire article about the proposed registry, CLICK HERE.

You can do your part to be a good neighbor.  Actions as simple as raking leaves or picking up trash around vacant properties can help keep your neighborhood safe.  Watch the Living St. Louis segment below to learn how the Spanish Lake community is working together to address the problem of abandoned homes in the neighborhood.  To learn how you can volunteer, call United Way’s 2-1-1 Referral Service at (800) 427-4626—they’ll help connect you with trusted resources.


Living St. Louis Spotlight on Credit Counseling

June 18, 2009

KETC’s Living St. Louis program recently featured a segment on credit counseling.  Producer Ruth Ezell follows the story of Laurie Ferrer and her family.  Like many other Americans, Laurie and her husband became dependent on their credit cards.  The Ferrer family was no longer able to pay the minimum balances on all their cards and their interest rates kept getting higher; eventually their debt became too much to handle.

But Laurie and her family sought help, and they found a solution to their debt problems at ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions (formerly known as ClearPoint Financial Solutions).  ClearPoint’s counseling services have already helped the Ferrer’s decrease their debt by 25% and they expect to be debt-free in three years.

You can watch the entire Living St. Louis segment HERE, or by watching the video below. 

If you or someone you know need credit counseling, call United Way’s 2-1-1 Referral Service at (800) 427-4626—they’ll help connect you with trusted resources.  You can also contact one of our partners, ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, for help with credit card debt.


MO Attorney General Sues Mortgage-Refinancing Companies

June 16, 2009

On May 27, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced suits against two local mortgage-refinancing companies.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Savvy Consumer blog reports that both companies have been calling citizens on Missouri’s Do-Not-Call list.  These suits are part of an ongoing effort by the Attorney General’s office to fight mortgage scams. 

Legitimate housing counseling agencies won’t contact you or send out advertisements.  Their services shouldn’t cost you anything.  You should be wary of any company that seeks you out and/or that is charging you a lot of money for housing counseling.

To read the entire St. Louis Post Dispatch article on Koster’s announcement, CLICK HERE.  If you or someone you know is facing foreclosure, contact a HUD-certified housing counseling agency to seek help.  To find one, call United Way’s 2-1-1 Referral Service at (800) 427-4626.


Foreclosures Increase for Prime Borrowers

June 9, 2009

Since the beginning of the mortgage crisis, many experts have blamed the explosion in foreclosures on risky sub-prime loans.  But USA Today reported recently that the rate of foreclosure for prime borrowers has been increasing, mainly because of rising unemployment rates.  To read the rest of the article, CLICK HERE.

If you or someone you know is facing foreclosure, contact a HUD-certified housing counseling agency to seek help.  To find one, call United Way’s 2-1-1 Referral Service at (800) 427-4626.


KWMU: Financial Literacy Program 5/28

May 27, 2009

Thursday, May 28th, the topic of KWMU‘s St. Louis on the Air will be financial literacy for all ages.  Guests on the program include Ms. Suzanne Gellman, Consumer Economics Specialist at University of Missouri Extension; Cassandra Kaufman, Director of Community Investment at the United Way of Greater St. Louis; and Yvonne Maldonado, Youth Specialist at Kingdom House.

Be sure to tune in to 90.7 FM from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. tomorrow for a great discussion about financial literacy!

To read more about KWMU’s Facing the Mortgage Crisis programs, CLICK HERE.