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Continued: A new version of 'house keeping'

  • Article by: CONNIE NELSON , Home + Garden Editor
  • Last update: March 10, 2009 - 10:34 AM

If you go to a neighborhood home and garden show, you can arrange for an estimate from a contractor or a landscaper who lives in your area or talk to a loan officer from the bank down the street. If you go to the Greater Midway Home & Garden Show in St. Paul on Saturday, you'll also be able to talk to a certified foreclosure counselor.

For the first time, Sparc, a nonprofit community development corporation, is adding a foreclosure clinic to its lineup of workshops.

Beth Hyser, an independent contractor who coordinates the show, admits it's an unconventional addition to the more upbeat home-show offerings of bathroom remodeling and making a rain barrel. But Hyser said she hopes it's a way for "the show to be of more service."

St. Paul's North End, South Como and Hamline-Midway neighborhoods have been "hard hit by foreclosures and more are coming," she said. "In an odd way, we're trying to take an optimistic approach. We're looking at how we can get to folks before they have a full-on crash."

Any event with "foreclosure" in the title can be a hard sell. "There's a lot of shame around it, especially in group settings," she said. That's why organizers decided to offer free, one-on-one meetings with English- or Hmong-speaking counselors, who can determine if there are loans, grants or one of the President's new loan modificiation programs that can help people who are behind on their mortgages or worried about losing their homes.

"This is a first line of defense," said Denise Gathman, director of Neighborworks Home Ownership Center at Community Neighborhood Housing Services, the organization hosting the clinic, which is free and open to all homeowners regardless of income.

The clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Crossroads Elementary School, 543 Front Av. Call 651-488-1039 or go to sparcweb.org for more information.

Hyser hopes that the clinic willl benefit homeowners in trouble and maybe exhibitors at the show, as well. "If you can get your mortgage straightened out, maybe you can think about fixing your furnace or putting a new roof on your house," she said.

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