Report finds foreclosure rates decreased in Boston

A new report says foreclosures in Boston have decreased by 22 percent since 2016 due to the Boston Home Center’s efforts, bringing a positive light to Boston after ranking ninth in the rate of foreclosures in Massachusetts. The BHC helps residents purchase, improve and keep their homes, specifically providing counseling and resources to help residents avoid foreclosures.

The report looked at the rate of filed petitions, which begin the legal process of foreclosure, and the rate of deeds, which complete the foreclosure process. According to the 2017 foreclosure trends report, petition rates have decreased by 30 percent in Boston compared to the state rate, while deed rates decreased by 15 percent. Of the foreclosures in 2017, 59 percent of petitions and 42 percent of deeds were homeowners, though Boston sees more renters and investment owners than homeowners, according to RentCafe.

After a unsuccessful foreclosure auction, a property becomes lender or bank owned. Of the 139 properties foreclosed in 2017, lenders only bought back 64. This was a decrease of 45 from last year and is the lowest it has been in the last ten years. Housing activists still note they’re fighting foreclosures around the city. Helen Matthews, communications manager for City Life/Vida Urbana, described a rally in front of the home of a Dorchester family in foreclosure at the end of March.

“Wells Fargo has been refusing to sell their home back to them, even though the family financially qualifies to buy it back,” she said. “Now, we’re demanding that Wells Fargo sell the house to Boston Community Capital, a community lending agency that would help the family remain and possibly regain ownership of the house.”

The BHC has recently been awarded a $190,000 grant for its work on foreclosure prevention. Awarded by Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Division of Banks and was part $1.5 million in statewide grants from the Division of Banks, funding first-time homeownership counseling programs and foreclosure prevention education centers.

“I am proud of the progress we’ve made on preventing foreclosures, and this grant will help the Boston Home Center continue its important work, making sure homeowners are able to stay in their homes,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in a press release.

The BHC plans to use the new funds to maintain and expand their foreclosure prevention work, expand marketing and outreach for their foreclosure program, establish new partnerships with organizations assisting homeowners, and develop programs serving minority groups in all Boston neighborhoods. The funds will also help the Emergency Housing Assistance Program and legal services.

The plans will focus on creating and preserving affordable housing.

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