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Fewer families in Florida and across the country are losing their homes to foreclosures than they were a few years ago. Even though this has been a difficult stretch of time for many middle-class Americans, with wages down and costs for essentials up in real terms, more families have found ways to stay in their homes.

One of the vehicles that they are using is the National Mortgage Settlement Plan, which allows families to hold onto their homes with lower interest rates and reduced mortgage balances. The deal was worked out with 49 state attorneys general, federal regulators and the five major U.S. banks. More than 643,000 families since early 2012 have been able to hold on to their homes under this plan. In addition, Hope Now, a home retention organization with broad support across private and government sectors, has helped along more than 6.6 million home loan modifications since 2007.

Some believe that one of the problems that led to so many foreclosures is the banks’ view that they were just dealing with numbers, not people. The victims of the earlier foreclosures feel that they were victims who called attention to a problem that needed the solutions that are now benefiting other homeowners.

A family facing a foreclosure may feel stressed and feel like giving up. Alternative steps might be available that a family can take to help keep them from being removed from their home. If the initiator and holder of a mortgage have not met all of the requirements of the fair lending laws, a foreclosure might be avoided.

Source: USA Today, “New regulations mean more families are keeping homes“, Victor Epstein, October 28, 2013