03/07/2011 08:44 pm ET | Updated Oct 25, 2012

Underwater Homeowners Gather To Talk 'Housing Hell'

WASHINGTON -- Last month, HuffPost meetups across the country propelled Americans to political action. In Sacramento, Calif., meetup participants held a protest at their local Bank of America, while in Seattle, Karen Pooley asked for support from fellow meetup attendees as she prepared to testify before the Olympia legislature. HuffPost's next monthly mortgage meetup is set for Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m., and several groups have contacted us to detail their plans. Click here to find the HuffPost "Housing Hell" meetup nearest you.

Liz Coursen said the February meetup in Sarasota, Fla., which was attended by roughly a dozen people, spurred her to organize a foreclosure seminar later in March. "I asked a local foreclosure defense lawyer to run it," she wrote in an email. "He said he would, and we're going to advertise it in the three local papers. Should be interesting!"

Coursen added that the March meetup in Sarasota, which is scheduled to take place at a local library on Tuesday night, will be a bit smaller this month. "Wednesday is the second annual 'Rally in Tally,' so I know that a number of our most important activists are going to be home preparing for that," she said in a phone interview on Monday. Coursen's organization, the National WaMu Homeowners Support Group, is one of several Florida groups helping to organize the rally highlighting the state's foreclosure crisis.

In Boynton Beach, Fla., ForeclosureHamlet.org, an online site for homeowners navigating foreclosure, is encouraging HuffPost meetup-goers to join their "Freedom Ride" to a rally slated for March 9. Demonstrators will take an overnight bus trip to the state Capitol, meeting with state representatives and holding press events in Tallahassee the next day. "The Housing Hell meetup could turn into an all-night, all-day affair in Florida," Lisa Epstein of ForeclosureHamlet.org told HuffPost.

If you want to cover a meetup as a citizen journalist or are a real estate expert, attorney or someone interested in organizing an event but having trouble getting it started, email us at lucia@huffingtonpost.com, arthur@huffingtonpost.com or ryan@huffingtonpost.com. Answers to some frequently asked questions appear below:


Q: How do I find a meetup near me?

A: Follow HuffPost's link to find your local chapter, type your town and state into the search box in the upper right-hand corner, and click "Go." The meetup scheduled nearest you will automatically show up. It may not be in your neighborhood, however, since the system is designed to foster a critical mass of participants by showing meetups in your area with the most activity.

Q. I want to go to a meetup, but I don't see one that's close enough to me. How do I start a new meetup in my town?

A. If you do not see a scheduled meetup that is close enough to you, you can create your own by following the directions above, and then, when presented with the locations nearest you, scroll down a bit and click on "Show 10 more." Having clicked on that, scroll all the way to the bottom of the list where you'll find a button that says, "Start a new community in [your location]." Click and follow the prompts.

Q. I am looking at this meetup, but there's no specified venue -- does that mean the meetup is not happening?

A. All it means is that you have to suggest a location. The meetup may not happen unless you make it happen. To suggest a location in a meetup that doesn't already have one, click "Suggest the place" in the "Where" section of the event details. If other people want to meet somewhere else, you can hash it out with them in the comments section.

Choosing a venue can help boost turnout; the sooner you suggest a place, the better.

Q. How do I get more people to come to my meetup?

A. Promote it! Tweet it, Facebook it, call up your friends and tell them about the meetup. The more you mobilize your own community, the better the meetup will be.

Q. What should we do at the meetup? Just talk, get drinks, eat?

A. Anything you want. We hope people to come together to talk about their mortgage problems and find solutions together.