Thousands of people have gathered in Los Angeles in a last ditch effort to keep their homes from going into foreclosure.
Men and women from all over the country stood in line today for a program called "Save the Dream," hoping that an advocacy group can help them renegotiate their mortgages.
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The turnout highlights the nation's nightmare foreclosure rate. Some 24 percent of all home sales in the second quarter of this year were foreclosure homes, according to RealtyTrac. These homes, reclaimed by the bank, typically sell at more than a 25 percent discount.
Since the recession started in 2007, 2.3 million homes have been foreclosed. The spike is coming down, but just last month, 340,000 homes got a foreclosure notice.
In Los Angeles, hundreds of people began camping out on line at noon yesterday, like teenagers hoping for concert tickets. But there's a lot more at stake -- all of the people gathered are at risk of losing their homes.
Shirley McCoy became the 1,117th person in line when she arrived at 6:10 a.m. She's a widow with cancer on a fixed income, and she bought her home with more than 50 percent down.
"I'm never late, I make every payment, but I still get denied," said McCoy.
Wachovia Bank has rejected her twice for refinancing, but she vows to continue to fight as long as she can.
Cole Cameron, an accountant, was also in line. Cameron made the six-hour drive from San Jose, where his home is deeply underwater. He bought at the top of the market and now owes 50 percent more than his home is worth.
The organizers of the "Save the Dream" event put people like McCoy and Cameron in direct contact with bank representatives. They held exactly the same event in 2009, but more people are showing up this year, even though the recession is now technically over.
California is one of the states that has been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. One out of 10 homes that have been foreclosed upon nationwide are in Los Angeles County alone.
Looking at the huge crowds in line, McCoy said it's a reminder that many are still struggling in this economy.
"Shows you how desperate people are," McCoy said. "I hope Obama sees this, cause he needs to know how desperate people are. The mortgage companies need a spanking. Especially Wachovia."