Renters ensnared in foreclosure crises as well

Michelle Dirickson had been renting property since 2003 when she first moved to Merced, California from Nevada. For three years, she rented a duplex in a new housing subdivision at Canal Street and Childs Avenue.

But by last September, she was living in a different house with her husband and two kids. During the summer, her house was foreclosed on and sold at auction.

"It was a very hard time for us -- my daughter had just had surgery, my father was in the hospital and then my grandmother died," said Dirickson, 45. "So there was so much going on, my head was reeling from it."

In 2010 in Merced County, a third of foreclosed units were rental properties such as Dirickson's. In other words, 34 percent of all foreclosed units were renter-occupied, according to statistics released in a report from Tenants Together, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that defends California tenants' rights. In 2010, a total of 2,453 renters were affected in the county, according to Gabe Treves, program coordinator for the group.

Educating tenants about their rights in a foreclosure situation is key, Treves said.

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