Help is on the way for hundreds of Murrieta residents facing foreclosure.
The City of Murrieta is organizing a series of meetings to deal with what officials have described as a “foreclosure crisis.”
March 6, the city council held a workshop to discuss what the city could do to help residents who are at risk of losing their homes.
Murrieta’s foreclosure rate is higher than it has ever been, according to the city manager’s assistant, Nancy Driggers.
More than four percent of the 26,283 single-family homes in Murrieta are currently entering foreclosure.
The foreclosure rate has increased 191 percent from last year, according to Linda Mejia, the city’s senior code enforcement officer.
At the meeting, the city announced it has tentatively scheduled a clinic for April 3 at Murrieta’s former city hall building.
The clinic, which will be open to the public, will be an attempt to help home owners deal with foreclosure.
Mortgage councilors and lenders will attend the clinic to speak with homeowners and make appointments to help them with their situations.
“There’s a lot of help for people, but most don’t know enough to ask for help in the first place,” Mayor Rick Gibbs said at the meeting.
The meeting will help residents by putting them in contact with people who can help them through their bad situations, Gibbs said at the workshop.
“What we’ve really found out through this crisis is every person’s situation is truly unique,” he said. “A credit counselor told us it required usually two to three hours of their time to help each individual over the phone. What we’re trying to do is facilitate the communication.”
The counselors will help homeowners through the foreclosure process, offer financial analysis and education and help fill out application forms for residents to receive aid from other agencies, Driggers said at the workshop.
The clinic will be the first of two steps the city has planned to help residents.
The second step will be a summit of local representatives who will discuss ways the government can prevent a similar crisis from happening in the future.
The city has not yet announced a date for the summit.
At the meeting the city held the second hearing for a new ordinance that will require lenders to register themselves with the city when a Murrieta resident goes into foreclosure.
The city saw the need to form its own registry of foreclosed properties because though a county registry exists, it is more than six months behind, said City Manager Rick Dudley.
The cost of staff time the city will use to help the residents has not yet been announced.
The city set the deadline to put together the clinic at April 3 because of what they see as a dire need, according to Driggers.
“It’s aggressive but we want to move forward with this as quickly as possible and get the word out that the city is here to help,” she said.
These two meetings may be the beginning of many, according to Councilmember Kelly Bennett.
“I don’t look at the mortgage forum as a one-time event,” she said. “I think we’re going to have to be offering this on multiple occasions because we’ll have new waves of people going through this crisis as time passes.”