COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Governor Ted Strickland along with Attorney General Marc Dann and Chief Justice Thomas Moyer announced new foreclosure prevention efforts Tuesday at the statehouse, reports News 11's Shelley Brown.
Called "Save the Dream," the program is an effort by the State to help homeowners hang on to their property. Ohio Attorney General Dann said considering the public awareness campaign, the toll free hotline and the free legal aid, this is the most comprehensive foreclosure program in the country.
More than 1,100 attorneys have volunteered their time to help coach folks on how to keep their homes. The private attorneys will mediate disputes for free and represent homeowners seeking to restructure loans. They'll join with legal aid lawyers in the effort to cut the growing foreclosure rate in the State, which rose in 85 of 88 counties last year.
In 2007, more than 83,000 Ohio homes were in foreclosure, 9,000 of which were in Franklin County. In Lucas County, more than 3,400 homes were in foreclosure last year.
"It's one of those things where you think it would never happen to you. I mean, how could it?" says Curt Gentz, whose Sylvania home is now in foreclosure. Gentz now lives with a friend.
Indeed, dozens of homes are going up for bid at sheriff tax sales every day.
"If you're being foreclosed on, if you're facing a challenge, if your mortgage lender is not returning your phone calls, call the hotline -- whether you make a million dollars a year or $55,000 a year," Dann says.
About the Save the Dream campaign, Moyer says, "In some cases, they (volunteer attorneys) will interview the homeowners, analyze the mortgage documents, identify the potential for reworking the loan by analyzing the homeowners' available income."
Moyer last year had asked the State Bar Assn. to help come up with ways for lawyers to volunteer to mediate foreclosure disputes for free.
The three legislators are convinced the program will be beneficial.
"When we can use mediation on a pro bono basis to save one home, we're stemming a tide of despair and destruction one block, one street, one neighborhood at a time," Dann says.
The number for Save the Dream is 1-888-404-4674. If you're in Lucas County, call 2-1-1.
Updated by KO