Sheriff sales halted in April

March 28, 2008 9:17:57 PM PDT
Foreclosure sales in the city have been suspended for the month of April. Sheriff John Green said the break will help his office identify predatory-lending victims and help struggling home owners. His office also had a 30-day moratorium on sheriff's sales in 2004.

People like Yajairia Rivera and her husband, who found a home for their four children in the Northeast. They got a loan for $106,000 with what they thought was a 7 percent fixed interest rate, but two weeks later the Riveras got a shock in the mail.

"I received a new set of papers saying the first agreement was erroneous because they totaled the taxes wrongly and the percentage rate was also an error," said Rivera.

Like millions of Americans, the Riveras saw their interest rate jump. Now instead of a 900 dollar a month mortgage, the family was struggling with a monthly payment of more than 14-hundred dollars.

The house eventually foreclosed, but the moratorium put in place by the Philadelphia's Sheriff saves their home for now.

"What we have in place right now is a hold. It's a breather period," said Ian Phillips of ACORN.

ACORN, the Sheriff's office and city council are trying to track homeowners who are victims of predatory lending and sub prime resets. People like Rivera who are dealing with a lot of stress.

"It makes me work harder to fight my lender to get them to honor the draft we agreed upon and what I thought I was signing," said Rivera.

"We are lucky that we have a proactive city council and city administration that step up to the plate to prevent what happened in cities like Cleveland and Detroit from happening in Philadelphia," said Phillips.

The hope is that lenders will come forward and be willing to sit down with these homeowners who are facing foreclosure, but ACORN says it is fully prepared to go to court with city council and the sheriff to extend the 30-day moratorium if that does not happen.

About 2,000 homes were sold by the sheriff's office last year, a decrease from 2006.

But housing advocates say that more than 3,200 high-cost loans issued in 2006 will go into foreclosure this year as the "teaser" rates expire and homeowners' interest rates rise.