NEW YORK - State officials are going to teach homeowners - behind in their mortgage payments - how to work with their lenders and possibly save their homes from foreclosures.

The State Senate Democratic Conference is kicking off "Operation Protect Your Home." It's a series of forums where homeowners can meet with lenders to learn how to hold off or prevent foreclosure.

Organizers say 20,000 high-risk homeowners have been invited to attend.

Residents in the northeast section of the Bronx have been hit particularly hard, according to one group. Sarah Gerecke, CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services, says education is key to preventing foreclosures. According to Gerecke, some homeowners ended up with unaffordable loans because they simply didn't know better.

State Banking Superintendent Richard Neiman says more than 50 percent of the borrowers who go through foreclosure never have any direct contact with the lender. He says that means they have either given up or they did not have any other options to save their homes.

Officials say the last thing a bank wants is to own your house.

The seminars will begin Saturday, February 23 at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx at noon. And at Staten Island Community College Sunday, February 24, also at noon.

Associated Press wire reports contributed to this story.