One in every 199Percent increase:
The huge jump in foreclosure filings in this Gulf Coast metro area is mostly job related, according to Ryan LaFontaine, the public information officer for the city of Gulfport.
The big industry here is gaming and many of the casinos have suffered some downturn as the recession took away the discretionary income of many tourists.
"Unemployment is still low compared with the rest of the country," said LaFontaine, "but it's way up from a couple of years ago when it was around 4%."
Gulfport had been hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and many jobs were created since then to rebuild the area. "That's slowed down now," said the mayor of Gulfport George Schloegel, who came from the banking industry.
There was overbuilding in the storm's wake, leaving the city with a three-year inventory of homes for sale, according to Schloegel. That has depressed prices and put homeowners underwater.
The mayor believes that foreclosure rates were also pumped up by inexperienced homebuyers who purchased after the deluge. "People were not really equiped for homeownership," he said.
The 3,000% plus increase in filings over the past two years masks the fact that foreclosure is still a rare occurrence here. Gulfport's rate of one for every 199 households is less than a quarter of the rate of the nation as a whole and better than all but 22 of the 203 cities surveyed by RealtyTrac.NEXT