April 11, 2008
Dear Community Leader:
As the State Senator for your district, I recognize you as someone who interfaces with many residents every day. As you know, we are in the midst of a housing crisis like never seen before across Massachusetts! I know from the escalating number of constituents calling and walking in to our office every day that our district has been especially hard hit. I want to let you know what we are working on in the hope that you could pass the information on and be supportive of our efforts. Just in the past several weeks, between February 15th and April 3rd :
There have been 5,960 foreclosure petitions filed across Massachusetts (730 in Boston)
There have been 4,215 auctioned properties in Massachusetts
The foreclosure crisis is destroying whole communities not just here in Boston, but all around Massachusetts. If we continue at this pace, we will far surpass the 29,000+ record-number of foreclosures in Massachusetts for 2007.
Recently, I filed three bills in the Senate to protect tenants, mandate judicial foreclosure and to create a six month moratorium on new foreclosures. In order for these bills to gain traction, I need your support around the community for this package of legislation and for you to serve as a resource for the families, homeowners and tenants whose lives are being devastated every day by this crisis. Here are the summaries of the bills I’ve filed:
An Act to Require Judicial Foreclosure – Sen. 2696
This bill will enable Massachusetts to join 29 other states in requiring that a court approve foreclosures. Homeowners should have a day in court and an opportunity to raise defenses before they are stripped of the biggest asset they are likely to own in their lives. If you've been reading the daily newspapers over the last several weeks, you know that homes are being auctioned and sold before foreclosures are even complete. Even if lenders violate the law or make errors in how much money is actually owed, borrowers currently have no rights. This must change.
An Act Relative to a Temporary Moratorium on Foreclosures – Sen. 2697
This bill will provide for a 6 month moratorium on foreclosures to keep homeowners from losing their homes while more comprehensive solutions are effected on the state level. During this moratorium, a commission will be established to make recommendations that will help residents of Massachusetts deal with the crisis. This time will also provide an opportunity for mortgage holders to work with borrowers and find solutions that will help them remain in their homes.
An Act Requiring Just Cause for Eviction in Foreclosed Properties – Sen. 2698
This bill would protect from eviction tenants who are current in their rent and otherwise occupying a property lawfully after foreclosure, in other words, requiring just cause for evictions. If the foreclosing lender does not have just cause to evict, the tenants can remain, paying reasonable rents and abiding by the standard rules of tenancies. This protection will also protect municipalities as they scramble to address vacant and unsupervised properties which can become public safety hazards through burst pipes, fires, vandalism, and disrepair due to neglect. This bill will keep people in their homes and help to stabilize neighborhoods during the current crisis.
I need your help to let others know that activity is occurring. These bills can only pass if we work together to make the case that we have to provide help to homeowners and tenants and not just the big lenders who are being bailed out on the federal level.
In the meantime, if you have clients, constituents, patients, neighbors etc, who need assistance with their mortgage and are dealing with pending foreclosure, I encourage you to put them in touch with either the City of Boston’s Foreclosure Prevention Initiative by calling 617-635-HOME (617-635-4663) or the Legal Advocacy Resource Center (LARC), which provides referrals on a case-specific basis to appropriate groups. You can contact LARC by calling 617-603-1700.
If you have any additional questions or would like any more information about bills that I have filed please don’t hesitate to contact my office.
Second Suffolk District
Wesley J. Ritchie
Director of Policy
Office of Senator Dianne Wilkerson
Second Suffolk District