While many families have learned to cope with the major pay cuts and layoffs ushered in by the recession, few are prepared for the nightmare of losing their homes.
In hopes of saving at least one family's home, Avvo, an online legal directory and lawyer rating system, launched a "Save My House" contest this month for Florida homeowners facing foreclosure. Since the contest kicked off on Monday, June 7th, over 200 foreclosure stories have been posted on Avvo's website.
Some of the stories are heartbreaking. One homeowner from West Palm Beach, Florida, writes: "My daughters are not aware of the situation we are in yet, but it breaks my heart to hear how excited they are and their plans to redo and repaint their bedrooms as they start the new school year.... For me it's the fear of not knowing what to expect and the guilty feeling that I have failed my kids in keeping a roof over their head. Not to mention the fact that my credit is ruined so it makes it twice as hard to start over finding a good rental property etc. I truly need to keep my house."
The contest closes on June 29, at which point Avvo will select the top five stories, invite the user community to vote for the most deserving story and then pay for the winner's legal fees.
Mark Britton, the CEO and Founder of Avvo, says he decided to hold the contest in Florida because it has a particularly high foreclosure rate.
"Florida is one of those areas that's been the hardest-hit in the latest economic downturn. Last month they had 48,000 new foreclosures," he said. "In our Q&A forms, we see so many legal questions from Floridians on troubling things like mortgage fraud -- literally thousands of questions -- so that helped us decide."
Britton says he thinks it's important to reach out to the communities that have brought his new company success.
"We're putting our money where our mouth is," he told HuffPost. "We see the pain people are going through every day -- whether they've lost their job, fell behind in monthly payments or have been victim of a mortgage scam. Homeowners are having a tough time in Florida and that's why Avvo wants to help. The goal of the Save My House contest is to not only save someone's house, but also raise awareness of the options people have by understanding their legal rights as a homeowner and how to find a good lawyer to fight for their case."