Focal Point: 'Here to Help'

Focal Point: Here to Help looks at the programs and organizations available to help North Carolinians dealing with the challenges of the recession.

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Original air date: April 15, 2009

When Sharyn Holland and her husband went shopping for a home five years ago, loans were easy to come by, even with their low credit score. They found a payment they could afford with an adjustable rate mortgage.

But two years later, the interest rate jumped, and so did their payment, by almost $300. They didn’t have the credit to refinance to a fixed loan at a lower rate.

“We couldn’t catch up," Holland said. "It was just impossible.”

A sheriff’s deputy served the foreclosure papers.

"I felt like a failure to my kids," Holland said.

The North Carolina Banking Commission says the Hollands' story is typical of the sub-prime market where lenders offered products called exploding adjustable rate mortgage.

“They were certainly selling these products that were designed to fail," said Mark Pearce, the commission's deputy commissioner.

The Holland's moved to a rental house, but it was in foreclosure, too, forcing them to move again to another rental house that is being foreclosed on, as well.

Two local housing agencies are trying to help the Holland's find a new place to stay or a buyer for their rental home who will let them stay put.

“I’m not going to feel better until I find a stable place to stay," Holland said. "And I just don’t want it to be the shelter. I don’t want it to be the shelter.”

Across North Carolina, people like the Hollands are losing their homes, their jobs and their retirement savings as the recession takes its toll.

Home foreclosures were up more than 16 percent in 2008. Unemployment has reached a record high, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped about 40 percent since its peak in October 2007.

Focal Point: "Here to Help" profiles North Carolinians dealing with the challenges of the recession and looks at programs and organizations available to help.

It also reveals a unique Here to Help effort by WRAL-TV and to assist the community during tough economic times.

Watch the documentary

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Host: Monica Laliberte
Writer/producer: Clay Johnson
Photographer/editor: Jay Jennings
Research and production assistant: Laura Riddle

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