Fighting Foreclosure: Ordinary People Struggle Against Bank Repossessions

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Beverly Davis hopes to sell enough cornbread to buy her home out of foreclosure – that's $80,000 worth of cornbread mix in 21 days.

Davis said she paid $134,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch in Fairburn, Ga., in April 2006. Then her financial life, like that of millions of other Americans, began to unravel.

She lost her full-time job as an office administrator for the city of College Park. She took a short-lived part-time job. She sold greeting cards and nail polish on the side. Still, in March, she lost her home to foreclosure.

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Now she hopes to sell enough of her grandmother's special cornbread mix to buy the house back. The simple math of her task is daunting.

"Some people believe in miracles," Davis said.

Across the country banks are taking over homes at a near-record pace and more than one million homes are expected to be repossessed this year. Still, from the suburbs of Southern California to hills of rural Illinois, ordinary people are fighting back, raising cash by selling family recipes, representing themselves in court, doing whatever is necessary to keep their homes.

In July, banks repossessed the second highest monthly number of homes ever, according to the California-based foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac, Inc. There were 92,858 properties taken over by banks in July, an increase of nine percent in the month and six percent for the year.

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A sagging job market is the likely culprit. The silver lining: Overall foreclosure activity in July did drop about 10 percent from a year ago. But it was the 17th straight month of foreclosure actions on more than 300,000 properties, according to RealtyTrac.

"I'm not focused on how much money I must raise," Davis said. "I'm a woman of great faith. You can't get depressed and all embarrassed."

Davis, who sells her cornbread mix via her website, CornbreadMillionaire.com, said she was inspired after reading a story about a New Jersey woman who sold enough $40 apple cakes last year to qualify for a loan modification. She sells the cornbread mix and a cast-iron skillet for $40. The mix alone goes for $10. She also offers cornbread cooking lessons.

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"Cornbread is my passion," she said.

Davis started her cornbread venture in June. The orders soon started picking up. She wouldn't say exactly how much she's raised so far. "I raised $3,000 last weekend alone," she said. "The sales are still coming in. I believe it can be done."

Many orders, Davis said, arrived with messages of encouragement.

"The cornbread story has given them hope and courage," she said. "People like the idea of turning lemons into lemonade. They like that I didn't give up. It touches home. Most people can relate to being unemployed and losing a home."

In Teaneck, N.J., homeowner Angela Logan sold enough of her $40 apple cakes to qualify for a loan modification that allowed her to save her home. She dubbed her venture Mortgage Apple Cakes.

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