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Fighting Foreclosures Across the Commonwealth

July 11, 2011

As someone who has fought hard for programs and initiatives to combat skyrocketing foreclosure rates, Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) is pleased with the work that Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murry are doing for homeowners across the Commonwealth, including the new interest-free loan program being offered to unemployed homeowners.

Earlier this month, the administration launched a public service campaign to announce that Massachusetts received $61 million in funding through the Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP) to assist struggling homeowners across the state. These funds are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in conjunction with NeighborWorks America.

To qualify for an interest-free loan of up to two years or $50,000, homeowners must have experienced a 15% reduction in income due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment or medical emergency, they must be at least three months delinquent on a first mortgage, and must be facing foreclosure. There are additional requirements and requirements differ by region. All those interested are urged to apply by Friday, July 22, 2011.

To find out more about this program, please visit http://www.nw.org/ehlp  or call 855-346-3345. Or watch the public service announcement with Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray.

Just in this session alone, Senator Spilka has filed two bills aimed to assist struggling homeowners and reduce foreclosure rates. Her bill, S.865 An Act to Establish a Foreclosure Mediation Program, creates a foreclosure mediation program in the Commonwealth. The program will be available to mortgagors of residential property during the 90-day right-to-cure default period. Homeowners who op-in to the program will be required to meet with the lender and a trained mediator for at least one mediated session. They will have the authority to reach a settlement which could include a change in sale date, change in terms of payment, modification of the mortgage or agreement to restructure the mortgage debt. This will make sure that the parties meet face-to-face with a neutral third party involved to facilitate the best solution possible.

The second bill, S.868 An Act to Prevent Unlawful and Unnecessary Foreclosures, works to protect the best interests of creditors, investors, borrowers, and taxpayers, by requiring creditors to take commercially reasonable steps to avoid foreclosure. This will ensure that creditors maximize the value of their loans, and protect homeowners by avoiding unnecessary foreclosures.  It also will prohibit foreclosures where creditors lack the documents supporting their alleged right to foreclosure, and will prohibit passing on certain fees and costs to homeowners.

These bills filed by Senator Spilka, as well as the new initiatives of the Patrick-Murray administration are great steps forward in assisting those hit hardest by the recession. By helping those in need during these tough economic times, we are making a valuable investment in our communities, our state, and we are working to ensure continued economic growth in all regions of the Commonwealth.

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