BUSINESS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Federal Reserve Tours Foreclosed Homes: "Very Sobering"

As part of its Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up a few of the best local stories of the day.

Representatives of the Federal Reserve joined activists, civic leaders and struggling homeowners in a tour of Brockton, Mass. on Sunday to get a sense of how the foreclosure crisis is affecting communities. This was the ninth and final trip through a town hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, reports Bryan Manquard of the Boston Globe. The bus tour, organized by the Brockton Interfaith Community, rolled by shuttered buildings and empty houses, and featured personal stories of people trying to hold on despite turbulent times.

This trip "gives us on-the-ground, firsthand knowledge of what's happening,'' said Sandra Braunstein, who works for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. "I think it was very interesting and very sobering," she said. Brockton has the highest foreclosure rate in the state, at about 44 foreclosures per 1,000 housing units, and 1,500 in the last five years. After the tour, community members met with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Fed officials to discuss the housing situation.

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Lillie Greene, 65, lost everything when she fell victim to a Ponzi scheme. John Henderson of the Rocky Mount Telegram writes that Lillie Greene, 65, of North Carolina, quit her job of 27 years in 2001 so she could stay home and take care of her son, who was partly paralyzed after a stroke. "His father had died earlier," she explained, "I didn't want my son to go to a group home."

Trying to be financially judicious, she trusted her money to a local financial adviser, Joe Jones. But Jones, along with his partner, Charles Harrison, swindled her along with other retirees from around the region. The crooked investors have both been convicted and sent to prison for over a decade, but Greene has yet to have any of her money returned. Since then, Greene went back to work part-time as a school bus monitor. "I'm living from day to day," she said, "I'm fighting every day not to file bankruptcy."

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Residents of mobile home parks in Southern California are being kicked out to make way for a new condominium development, reports Rebecca Kimitch of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. The home owners are being paid to move out, but they feel shafted because their reimbursements are significantly less than what they paid for the house in the first place. "You are facing a foreclosure for them," described Leah Simon-Weisberg of the Eviction Defense Network.

As a response, the Rosemead cIty council is currently considering an ordinance to govern when and how mobile home parks are closed and converted for another use. In the meantime, residents say that the park is raising their rent, and is trying to force them out.

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With six unemployed workers for every available job, employers can afford to be choosy. Diane Stafford of the Charleston Port and Courier reports that Rachelle Rand claimed that she slaved for days for the application for a single job, just to lose it to an internal hire. She had a day-long interview, where she claimed she met with about 20 people back-to-back, as well as an initial hour-long phone interview. "I did a lot of preparation for the interviews and research prior to both interviews," Rand said, speaking as one of many who are devoting countless hours to finding a new job, all to no avail.

HuffPost readers: Seen a good local story? Know of a neighbor going to bizarre lengths to get through the recession? Tell us about it! Email jmhattem@gmail.com.