(WIVB)– Some of the nation’s top economists are predicting a surge of mortgage foreclosures, in the coming months, that could be worse than the great recession of 2008.

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns said, “We know that there are people out there teetering on the edge.”

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns assembled his Zombie Task Force at a vacant home in Sloan to emphasizing the homeowners foreclosed by the bank could have stayed home.

“Stay in your home if you are behind on your loan, you have a legal right to do that in New York state,” said Kearns.

Kearns says too many times a bank will start a foreclosure proceeding the homeowners abandon their property, but the bank fails to follow through and take control which leaves the deed still in the name of the homeowners who are long gone. And the vacant property becomes a zombie.

“There has been a lot of work done on this home. The sidewalk we are standing on is brand new.”

Kate Lockhart, WNY Law Center

Kearns’ Zombie Task Force is reaching out to financially-strapped homeowners offering counseling, legal assistance, and help to arrange financial arrangements.

Lockhart said, “But the important thing is to stay in your home if your behind on your loan or behind on your taxes reach out to get help.”

“So it is essential to not just abandon your property, give somebody a call because there options that can be taken to help you get your mortgage back into good standing.”

Edwin Jackson, Buffalo Urban League

“Stay in your home. We can help you for free. How often are things for free? If you’re scared, if you just have questions, call us.”

Jordan Zeranti, WNY Law Center Attorney

The task force also had a warning for homeowners on the bubble.. when you are in trouble, it is not just the banks that can hurt you.

“If you get a phone call or a letter from someone offering to help you do just that, save your home for a fee, we want you to know that is a scam.”

Christine Noonan, Hunt Real Estate

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Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.