Philadelphia program saves 5,755 homes in 5 years

June 12, 2013 2:34:43 PM PDT
A program dedicated to saving Philadelphia neighborhoods, one address at a time, is marking a milestone.

When it launched in 2008 the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program was the first of its kind.

Now, five years later, it has saved 5,755 homes. Still, leaders acknowledge, many more homes are still at risk.

"I've been here about 15 years, and this is what they call my greatest investment, the American dream," said Alvin Turner of Mount Airy.

Turner came very close to losing his home after, he said, his mortgage company failed to record his payments correctly.

"It was frustrating, someone telling you that you haven't paid your mortgage and they're threatening to foreclose on you," said Turner.

Eventually, Turner got help through the city's foreclosure prevention program.

Judge Annette Rizzo started the court-sponsored program, in which the city has invested $15 million so far.

The program requires lenders to meet and negotiate directly with homeowners, and provides homeowners with free attorneys and housing counselors.

At its fifth anniversary event on Wednesday, Judge Rizzo got a standing ovation and praise from Washington, D.C.

"You've clearly made a difference not only here but in cities across the country that have replicated your program for its citizens," said Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But, perhaps, it is praise from homeowners like Alvin Turner that matter most. Through face-to-face meetings in Courtroom 676, Turner was able to prove he made all his payments and the foreclosure process was halted.

"I think it's an excellent program and I'm very thankful for them," Turner said.

The program does help homeowners in all kinds of circumstances, including those who have actually fallen behind or can't afford their mortgage payments.

So, if your home is at risk of foreclosure, call the Save Your Home Philly hotline at 215-334-HOME or visit this link on the city's website.


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