Study: Foreclosures on rise again in northeast Florida

Published On: Sep 13 2012 02:42:38 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 13 2012 05:27:58 PM EDT

Gregg Canes/CNN

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Local resident London remembers a few years ago when he and his family had their home foreclosed on.

He said he went from making $40,000 a year to a minimum wage job, and it was a grim time, to say the least.

"You avoid people when you see them knocking at your door, cars driving in your yard," he said. "Either you're a prisoner in your own home or you stay away from it and circle the block a few times because you don't want to get served by some process server."

London's story is not unique in the River City. In fact, foreclosures appear to be on the rise again, according to a study by RealtyTrac. The latest report shows there were 30 percent more filings in Jacksonville this August than a year ago.

Last month, one in every 258 Duval County households filed for foreclosure. In Flagler County it was worse, with one in every 169. Surrounding areas were also hard hit. Most northeast Florida numbers are significantly higher than state and national averages.

"Every month it seems it grows with the number of people falling behind on their mortgages and the number of cases being filed. It just exponentially has grown," said attorney Lynn Drysdale.

Drysdale is a lawyer for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, a nonprofit firm for people who can't afford to hire attorneys on their own. She said times are tough, in turn making her foreclosure defense office busy.

Drysdale says people who may be in danger of falling behind on their payments need to act fast.

"Many times, people don't come to us until they're already in foreclosure," she said. "It's not too late then, but I would advise anyone who thinks they might be falling behind to start contacting their servicers early and often."

London says he's moved on. He works many jobs and is going back to school thanks to a federal grant for veterans. And he has high hopes for the future, believing someday he and his family will own property again.

"Absolutely, like a whole city block maybe," he said before laughing.

For more information on Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, click here.

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