WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - There were nearly 2,000 foreclosure filings across the WECT viewing area in 2014 alone.
While the foreclosure rate is declining as our economy improves, many people are still struggling. But there's a government program you may not know about that has already helped hundreds of people here stave off foreclosure, and stay in their homes.
Max and Meg Norton are among the many people across Southeastern North Carolina hit hard by the great recession. In 2010, Max was laid off from his full-time job in restaurant management.
He picked up two part-time jobs and was working 12+ hour days, 6 days a week. But even with Meg's income from her job, they no longer had enough money to cover the expenses for their family of four.
"All the sudden, we had to make these choices," Meg explained. "We're going to keep the lights on on we're going to pay our mortgage this month. Literally we were making those choices."
"It never added up," Max added. "What we owed was always way more than what we were bringing in."
The Norton's say it felt like no time before they were six months behind on their mortgage.
"We were going to lose our house," Meg said. "We had already gotten letters, we were basically in foreclosure."
A friend of Meg's was a housing counselor in Wilmington. She told Meg about the Foreclosure Prevention Fund, which was set up with federal money in 2010 to help people in states hit hardest by the recession, including North Carolina.
For those who qualify because of reasons like job loss or a death in the family, fund managers will literally take over your mortgage payments and pay the bank for you until you can get back on your feet.
Despite the difficulty of having to admit their unfortunate financial situation and ask for help, the Norton's are so glad they did. Glad enough that they were willing to tell their story to us, in hopes of helping someone else who may be facing the same dilemma.
"We were hard working, both of us employed. We're a pretty normal family and I think there's a lot of people in our situation, and I just want people to know if you are under any stress, under any strain, go and you may qualify," Meg said.
The Foreclosure Prevention Fund provided $9,000 in assistance to the Nortons. Fund administrators paid the bank for the six months they were behind, and the next six months to give the family some breathing room to get back on their feet.
Max is back to work full time now as a restaurant manager, and the family has stayed current on their mortgage for more than a year after the assistance ended. An added bonus, if they stay in their house for 10 years, the loan is completely forgiven and you don't have to pay it back.
You can reach the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund at 1-888-623-8631.