Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
I write this from Brockton, where hundreds of people have already shown up for today’s foreclosure prevention workshop. Few communities in Massachusetts have been as hard hit by foreclosure as Brockton, as evidenced by today’s turnout as homeowners take advantage of the opportunity to meet one-on-one with their lenders. (In the photo right, homeowners line up for registration at the Massasoit Center in Brockton this afternoon.)
One homeowner who met his lender today left optimistic that he will finally have a solution to his problem. He told us he has owned his house in Fall River since 2000, but has been on disability since 2003. A death in his family put him “behind the eight ball” with respect to his mortgage. For over a year he has been trying to work things out with his lender, to no avail. Today, he met a representative from his company and afterward said he is hopeful he will get a modification that will save him $600 a month and allow him to stay in his home on his fixed income.
This isn’t a success story yet – and won’t be until this homeowner gets a workout and can stay at home. But we know that recent state and federal changes, along with workshops like these, are having an impact on foreclosure here in Massachusetts.
Earlier this month, Governor Patrick signed legislation that extends the right-to-cure period from 90 days to 150, makes fraud a criminal offense, and creates new consumer protections on reverse mortgages. These provisions follow the Governor’s 2007 law, which created the original right-to-cure timeframe, and set the stage for these workshops and funding initiatives that have put more than $60 million into neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosure.
Additionally, the federal government has improved the Home Affordable Mortgage Program to provide new opportunities for unemployed homeowners, who have become a significant part of the foreclosed population.
With these state and federal initiatives in place, there are more tools than ever for homeowners to stave off foreclosure. But there is no easy cure, and it takes work on the homeowner’s part. We have another workshop scheduled for tomorrow, Aug. 26, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, from 2-8 p.m., and we hope as many people attend as possible. In the meantime, we will continue to work for people like the Fall River man we met today, trying our best to keep them in their homes.