Dump trucks, pickups and snow plows will be among more than 400 vehicles in the St. Paul Public Works Department's fleet sporting magnetic signs urging residents to call the city's foreclosure prevention hot line if they are worried about losing their homes.

City officials unveiled the promotion Tuesday and also touted a series of free foreclosure legal clinics, the first of which is tonight.

As of Nov. 21, the number of foreclosures in the city was 2,157, about 300 more than last year.

More than 1,300 households have received counseling through the program since April 2007.

Preventing foreclosures is the most cost-effective way to keep neighborhoods stable and minimize the use of city resources, Mayor Chris Coleman said .

The foreclosure prevention program is managed by the Planning and Economic Development Department and is free. The city has received nearly $600,000 in grants since last year to help pay for it.

There are seven full-time, multilingual program counselors who provide financial and budget counseling services, educate residents about the foreclosure process and work with lenders to see if there are solutions.

The first of three free legal clinics will be tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Summit-University Planning Council, 665 Selby Av. Homeowners will be able to have their mortgage and foreclosure documents reviewed by attorneys from the Housing Preservation Project. Two other clinics -- 1-3 p.m. Saturday and 6-8 p.m. Jan. 29 -- will be held at the Greater Frogtown Community Development Corporation, 533 Dale St.

Jane Bowman, an attorney with the Housing Preservation Project, said homeowners should be aware of scams, such as the requirement of up-front fees for foreclosure rescue efforts. Call 651-642-0102, ext. 117, for more information.

The city's foreclosure prevention hot line is 651-266-6626.