Foreclosure protection program a success

June 30, 2009 3:43:25 PM PDT
Philadelphia celebrated the one-year anniversary Tuesday of a city-run program that's been working to prevent home foreclosures, a program that has become a model for other cities across the nation.It's called the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program. Of the thousands of people who have participated in the program, nearly 30-percent have been saved from foreclosure.

"At first I felt like just giving up but I had worked hard for this home."

Deserie Jones-Wright is a retired Philadelphia police officer; injured in the line of duty. Last summer, she found herself in foreclosure.

"My mortgage escalated because I wasn't on a fixed rate, my pension was only $2,055. My mortgage went up to $975."

That was 2 months after the inception of Philadelphia's Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion program which brings together homeowners, lenders, pro bono lawyers, and housing counselors every Thursday inside City Hall courtroom 676 to help save people's homes all over the city.

"We were about to face a tsunami of foreclosures based on predatory lending," said Councilman Curtis Jones.

The Councilman met with Judges Darnell Jones and Annette Rizzo.

"The program has been a lynchpin to bring in a seniors and assist them in keeping their homes and to offer other services to stabilize communities," said Honorable Annette Rizzo.

"Believe you me ideas are one thing but people who can make it come to fruition wholly different matter," said Honorable Darnell Jones.

Tuesday they came to celebrate a successful first year, with nearly 5,000 homeowners participating since last June about 1400 have been saved from foreclosure.

"It shows that a good idea can really take place and can do great things."

"When you work hard all your life and did all the right things you just don't think things like this can happen to you but they can."

Now, Deserie says she'll do whatever she could to help prevent the loss of home.

"If I have to go across the world to speak, I will, because it helped me, saved me and helped my children."

As we mentioned, Philadelphia's Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program has gained national attention. New York City wants to model a program after it. Pittsburgh and Boston have already implemented the same program. New Jersey, Kentucky and Maryland have visited Philly, to learn more about it and inquiries have come from as far away as Florida, Arizona and California.

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