Conference to cover everything “home” related

Conference to cover everything “home” related

Although removed from the media attention it once garnered, foreclosure rates in Texas, and the nation, are still at an alarming rate. One in 497 housing units in the United Stated received foreclosure notices in January 2011, according to data compiled by California-based Realty Trac, the leading provider of such information. Those numbers are down 17 percent from the year prior.

In Jefferson County, there were 105 properties facing foreclosure in February, which equated to one in every 1,021 housing units. In the same one-month time frame Orange County housing units were hit with foreclosure rates at one in every 2,032; and nearby Galveston County’s housing units were foreclosed at a rate of one in every 633.

"We've now seen three straight months with fewer than 300,000 properties receiving foreclosure filings, following 20 straight months where the total exceeded 300,000," said James Saccacio, chief executive officer of Realty Trac, said in a prepared statement of the recent data findings. "Unfortunately this is less a sign of a robust housing recovery and more a sign that lenders have become bogged down in reviewing procedures, resubmitting paperwork and formulating legal arguments related to accusations of improper foreclosure processing."

In response to the staggering foreclosure numbers, compounded by the public’s need for education on matters related to fair housing, Golden Triangle entities are supporting an event now dubbed the 2011 Southeast Texas Fair House Conference. The event will take place Thursday, April 28, starting at 11 a.m. at the Beaumont Civic Center, offered free of change to any and all who wish to attend.

The City of Port Arthur, one of the sponsors of the Southeast Texas Fair Housing Conference, announced via the Chamber of Commerce that it “will join area cities to attract prestigious speakers and trainers to provide housing resources to the citizens of Port Arthur.”

The conference is touted to provide information and resources covering topics such as fair housing rights, avoiding foreclosure, housing finance, homebuyer counseling, steps to building and maintaining good credit, and tenant/landlord Rights.  Vendors will include representatives from local and regional organizations that have housing options and assistance designed to meet Southeast Texans’ needs and desires. Free credit reports on site and door prizes will also be offered, as well as glucose screening, flu shots and much more.

City of Orange grants planner and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) liaison Sandy Wilson said the conference is “an event anybody can benefit from.” According to her, “we are very proud of the information that will be offered, and I hope citizens take advantage of it.”

Wilson said in addition to the above listed highlights, participants can expect to find services geared toward seniors and families, have access to a living will clinic, and guests who pre-register are treated to a free lunch. Orange residents can also sign up for transportation to and from the Beaumont destination. To get on the service list, Wilson said to contact Joyce McGee from the Orange Housing Authority at (409) 883-4042 or Wilson at (409) 988-7395. Orange residents may also call Wilson to register in advance, ensuring lunch service. To register in advance from Beaumont, call (409) 880-3763; and in Port Arthur, call (409) 983-8259.

Johnny Beatty, Beaumont CDBG and HOME program manager, said the conference is an annual occurrence, although it has taken some hiatuses due to natural disasters. He added that the Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange groups making up the Golden Triangle Fair Housing Coalition have been diligently preparing this year’s event, and is even being joined by private sponsors and the cities of Bridge City and Vidor to make the conference one of the most comprehensive to date.

“The conference was going to happen regardless - even without sponsors, donations, anything,” Beatty said. “The more people we can reach, the batter, though. The added help and the added money these groups bring only makes it better, and that can be measured in many different ways.”

The conference is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 6 p.m. Wilson said that guests may come to any part of the event, or stay the entire day.

“We want people to be able to come, whether it is after work, on their lunch break, or whatever,” she said. “The purpose of this conference is to get the information out to as many people as possible, not to fit a rigorous time schedule. We understand that these are hard times for people to take off work, but anyone who does come will get so much out of it.”