US homeowners flock to Florida event in desperate bid to save properties
More than 20,000 American mortgagees to hit Palm Beach as Naca’s five-day mortgage modification marathon gets under way
Monday 30 August
In the pre-dawn darkness of a steamy night of sub-tropical rain, a queue of anxious, soggy people snakes around the palm trees outside a cavernous Florida convention centre. Some have erected camp beds or makeshift tents. All clutch sheaves of mortgage documents.
Welcome to America’s biggest jamboree of delinquent borrowers. For five days, the Neighbourhood Assistance Corporation of America (Naca), a not-for-profit organisation, is working round the clock to help homeowners hang on to their houses. More than 12,000 people have signed up in advance and more than 20,000 are expected to turn up, travelling from as far afield as California, Georgia and Maryland.
“It’s either feed your kids or pay your mortgage,” says Omayra Delgado, a 33-year-old special education teacher whose Miami house has slumped in value from $160,000 (£103,000) to $60,000. “My home is in foreclosure. I’m trying to keep it.”
Politicians’ talk of an economic recovery is laughable to many of those here. This is a last, desperate bid to cling on to home ownership – the event is shrewdly named “save the dream”.