SALEM — As the Rockingham County register of deeds, Cathy Stacey closely follows the trends of the local real estate market.
She knows that a gradual decline in property foreclosures can be attributed to a steadily improving economy.
So, while her records indicate Rockingham County is on pace to have the fewest number of foreclosures since before the recession, there are other numbers that trouble her.
Stacey, a Salem resident, was disheartened to see six foreclosure deeds from her hometown within two days this week. But she was happy to see the county is on track to have about 570 foreclosures this year, compared to 743 last year and a high of 849 in 2010.
At Salem Town Hall, human services director Kathleen Walton was troubled when she looked online and saw scores of foreclosed homes for sale throughout the area. She decided something had to be done.
"There is a huge need for help and people don't know where to turn," Walton said.
Despite reports the economy is improving, Walton said, the town welfare office is seeing a surge in desperate residents looking for assistance.
"Folks are still continuing to live in their homes even though they have been foreclosed," she said.
Walton contacted The Foreclosure Relief Project. It's an initiative established by the New Hampshire Bar Association, New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center earlier this year to prevent financially strapped homeowners from losing their properties through foreclosure.
The Foreclosure Relief Project is offering clinics throughout the state, aimed at providing free legal advice to property owners. A clinic will be held at Kelley Library on Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. to help local homeowners.
"We are hoping the clinic will provide the information people need," Walton said.
The Foreclosure Relief Project has provided approximately a dozen clinics since March, offering advice from about 70 lawyers who are volunteering their services, according to Vanessa Beauchesne, the project's coordinator.