While the Las Vegas housing market has improved, there are some still struggling to keep their homes.
They are people who are dealing with problems that haven’t gone away from the housing crash more than eight years ago or homeowners who are facing foreclosure for the first time.
“You’re not going to get through this entire process unscathed,” said Venicia Considine, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
The terms, phrases, and how to fight it can be overwhelming.
“Be educated about all of this because the other side is,” Considine said.
Eight years after the housing crisis, foreclosure is still so much of a problem, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has free workshops twice a month to help educate people.
According to Realty Trac, there are more than 8,000 homes in the process of foreclosure and Las Vegas is listed as a U.S. metro area with one the highest foreclosure inventories.
The problem has improved in the state identified as one of the “hardest hit,” but for many families, confusion remains.
“A lot of people believe that this problem is behind us and everything is okay and if it was, we wouldn’t still be having this class,” Considine said. “We still have people everyday that come in here that look for assistance, we have people who are losing their houses.”
Options to help struggling homeowners keep their homes five to 10 years ago like home equity lines of credit and modifications are ending. Now their payments are going up. Plus some programs offering aid will shut down by the end of this year.
“It seems like there’s this belief that everybody’s fine and everybody is not fine,” Considine said.
That includes Beatrice and Armando Cortinas.
The I-Team first met them in 2011 when they were living in their backyard as they faced foreclosure.
“I was just in shock. I couldn’t believe they were throwing me out of my house,” said Beatrice Cortinas.
Five years later, the couple rents a home down the block from the house they continue to insist is theirs. They still kept their dogs and some of their belongings there.
“I would be able to be paying my house instead of paying this one,” Beatrice Cortinas said.
Although she still considers the home hers, documents show otherwise. The house has been owned by the Nevada Housing Authority since 2011 after a Wells Fargo spokesman says foreclosure began in 2008.
The couple had trouble making payments after Beatrice says Armando’s construction hours were cut. It was a familiar story in Las Vegas during the housing crisis.
But Beatrice insists — after filing for bankruptcy — mortgage payments were made but the checks were sent back.
The couple even filed a lawsuit to fight for their home which they didn’t win.
“They took my house for nothing,” Armando Cortinas said.
Beatrice says she still doesn’t understand how the situation got to this point and what to do now.
“We have never been able to get an answer,” she said. “Sometimes it gets so stressful and everything, but we stay together.”
Back at the workshop, the foreclosure process is a newer challenge for Gia Sinipoli.
“There’s things I just don’t know, like procedures, timelines, there’s so much information.”
She says she can’t afford her mortgage after fighting an illness and she has no money for an attorney. It’s the reason she is at the free workshop. She is looking for help and hope.
“It’s just really stressful to think that every day you have to worry about where you’re going to live,” she said.
And she’s not alone.