By Michael Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 3, 2012….Distressed Massachusetts residents have pounded a week-old state hotline with as many as 300 calls a day seeking assistance to prevent their homes from being foreclosed upon.
“We’ve gotten about a 1,000 phone calls,” Attorney General Martha Coakley told Fox 25 during an interview Thursday morning. “We average 200 to 300 calls a day from people who are in distress about the mortgage or what they’re concerned about in the future.”
More than 45,000 people in Massachusetts have lost their homes to foreclosure during the economic crisis, according to Coakley’s office. Although the Warren Group reported completed foreclosures in Massachusetts dropped more than 30 percent last year, compared to 2010, analysts believe the drop was partly due to lenders slowing the process down. The number of initiated foreclosures in February was double the number for February 2011, according to Coakley’s office.
With $44.5 million paid to Massachusetts as part of a national settlement over illegal foreclosures and loan servicing with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and GMAC/Ally, Coakley last week launched a HomeCorps program featuring the hotline (617-573-5333), which makes loan modification experts available to advise residents. Coakley on Thursday urged people to call the hotline, particularly if they have a mortgage with one of the five banks covered by the settlement.
Under the settlement, the banks are also ordered to provide about $14.6 million in cash payments to Bay State borrowers and $257 million worth of mortgage relief across Massachusetts, money that Coakley said can be used for refinancing or principal reduction.
“We are going to try to help everybody we can to stay in their homes,” Coakley said. “For a lot of people this can be real relief.”
Coakley added, “We have several sets of resources here that we want to move forward but we still have to do this house by house and family by family.”
The Joint Committee on Financial Services faces a deadline next week to report on several bills aimed at addressing foreclosure problems in Massachusetts. Committee members have been granted an extension, beyond the biennial bill-reporting deadline, to give them more time to work on the bills.