Housing crisis averted for a homeowner

Earl Lane and his dog Taz will get to stay in their home.

After the end of an engagement, one Hannibal man was faced with losing more than a relationship.

"I'm barely able to eat, and when that hit me, it made it worse," Homeowner Earl Lane explained.

Earl Lane was desperate to find a way to keep his home after his circumstances quickly changed.

He explained,"It's not much, but it's the only place we've got." Lane and his golden retriever mix Taz were facing foreclosure on a fixed income.

Lane's modest home in southeast Hannibal was paid for, but he and his former fiance took out a second mortgage on his house to pay for the property next door. They planned to share the payment. When the relationship ended, the mortgage payment landed on him. Unable to work due to a seizure disorder and living on less than $700 a month in disability payments, the mortgage fell behind.

"Everybody can be in the same position. I'm not in a position, nor should anybody be a position, where they decide who deserves help and who doesn't deserve help," JD De Shaies said. De Shaies is the senior foreclosure mitigation counselor with the North East Community Action Corp. He looked long and hard for emergency money to help Lane.

Even though this is not typical, NECAC was able to come up with emergency money funded by a United Way grant. With the money, they were able to get Lane's mortgage up to date.

"He had spoke with his mortgage company and tried to come up with some assistance before he spoke with us. They were unable to do anything significant for him. They were requiring him to pay whatever he could, any little extra he could every month to bring that mortgage current. So, $25 to $50 a month he was taking out of his food budget," De Shaies said.

Small lenders are often times unable to compromise much with mortgage-holders since so many are facing foreclosure. Lane's debt is not gone, but he will be able to stay in his home and make more manageable payments.

"It'll help a lot .. .I'll be able to eat. I'll have Thanksgiving I hope," Lane said. Lane is not alone in his struggle. De Shaies said on a daily basis he handles anywhere from 30 to 100 foreclosure cases at one time.

Unfortunately, some homeowners choose not to seek help they desperately need to keep their homes. "Pride is unfortunately too big of a factor for too many of our clients, not just people who are faced with foreclosure. Pride is a big factor in just coming in and saying 'I need help,'" Brent Engel, a spokesperson with NECAC, said.

For those who do seek help, NECAC has a 60% to 70% rate of keeping homeowners in their home. The best way to deal with a potential foreclosure is to seek help early so financial institutions are more willing to discuss different repayment options.