Underwater Homeowner Meetups

On Tuesday evening in Boynton Beach, Fla., underwater homeowners are gathering for happy hour at Ralph and Rosie’s Restaurant, an independently owned bar and eatery involved in a dispute with the local town and being put up for auction at the end of the month. Ralph and Rosie will offer the homeowners free appetizers and soft drinks. In Portland, Ore., the meeting’s at the Hopworks Urban Brewery, where they’ll be joined by a staffer for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D). Denver homeowners will gather at the Village Inn on Colorado Avenue.

Los Angeles hasn’t figured it out, while Austin is meeting at Texican Restaurant. New Yorkers are getting together at a Starbucks in SoHo. [UPDATE: Los Angeles now has a location. Scroll down for details.]

The gatherings are being self-organized by homeowners looking to meet others who have tried to work out modifications with their bank for their underwater mortgage. Groups big and small have gotten involved: ForeclosureHamlet.org organized the Ralph and Rosie’s gathering, while the Service Employees International Union let a long list of their activists do the honors. Last week, HuffPost teamed up with MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan for a series of stories on the housing crisis, which spawned the Meetups, broken down by city here. Scroll down to see a slideshow of the MSNBC series.

Nearly a quarter of all mortgages are underwater and banks are increasingly worried that homeowners will walk away — or, in the industry term, “strategically default.” HuffPost spoke with nearly 50 people with underwater loans to find out what the emotional and financial consequences of strategic default had been for those who’d beaten that path.

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