North Carolina will receive $159 million as part of a federal aid package designed to fight foreclosures in states plagued by high unemployment.
The $600 million package announced Monday by the Obama administration is the latest sign that the nation's foreclosure problem has spread from subprime borrowers to the growing number of people who can't find work.
"The first wave of foreclosures had more to do with subprime loans, but right now many of the foreclosures in North Carolina are because of the surge in unemployment," said Charlene Crowell, communications manager for state policy and outreach at the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham. "A little bit of money will help. It won't solve all the problems, but it certainly comes at a time when many North Carolinians are needing help."
Portions of the state have seen a jump in foreclosure filings so far this year. Filings in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties jumped 72 percent - to 1,516 - in January and February compared with the first two months of 2009. Not every filing results in a foreclosure.
There were 2.8 million foreclosure filings nationally in 2009, and that number could exceed 3.5 million this year, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a research firm based in Irvine, Calif.
Such predictions have caused the Obama administration to step up its efforts over the last six weeks to prevent foreclosures.
Last month, the administration pledged $1.5 billion for states that have seen the biggest decline in housing prices: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada. On Friday, federal officials announced a plan to reduce the amount some distressed borrowers owe on their home loans and give unemployed homeowners temporary relief.
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