While signs of economic improvement start and stall across the country, Dalton, Ga., and Whitfield County continue to feel the burden of the housing crisis.
"You see this stuff on the news, 'Oh, the economy's getting better,'" said Gaile Jennings, executive director of the Dalton-Whitfield Community Development Corp. "It might be in other places, but when we had our Home Rescue Fair here last September, at that time, one in seven households in Georgia were behind on their mortgage. Well, now it's one in six."
To address the situation, Whitfield County is holding another daylong Home Rescue Fair on July 17 to help struggling property owners stay in their homes.
Home foreclosure filings in the county were up 33 percent in May compared to the same month a year before, according to RealtyTrac, which tracks filings nationwide.
Whitfield County ranks 32nd out of 159 Georgia counties for home foreclosure filings, and one out of every 296 county homes has had foreclosure proceedings initiated, according to RealtyTrac.
Home foreclosure filings do not mean a bank has taken possession of a home. Once a foreclosure notice is filed, homeowners may still make payments or arrange payments to retain the property and move it out of foreclosure.
The county is still struggling from a slowdown in home construction nationwide, which dominoed into a slowed demand for carpet, the principal industry for Whitfield and other surrounding counties.
And the problem has not improved since the first Home Rescue Fair in 2009, officials said.
"Another thing that's happened in the interim is that some more of the carpet mills have cut people's hours and laid people off so we have more job loss in the community," said Christine Green, a lawyer for Georgia Legal Assistance who will be at the event to offer legal advice.
The foreclosure fair will host about 20 lenders who can start the loan modification process, Ms. Jennings said. Homeowners will be given one-on-one sessions with loan specialists and there will be officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on site, she said.
Help will be offered in English and Spanish, and day care will be provided for children who are not in diapers, although organizers encourage all children be left at home.
"When people walk out of the trade center that day, they'll have something in their hand to help their situation," Ms. Jennings said.