Philly Mayor Throws Support Behind City-wide Foreclosure Prevention Program
Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street will be among the participants supporting a new program designed to help Philadelphia homeowners avoid foreclosure. The Urban League of Philadelphia will be joining with The National Urban League and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation to kick off the new program, which will target African-American borrowers. The organizations said today that increased foreclosures in Philadelphia are now threatening gains made in homeownership during the past decade, and that African Americans are more likely to be at risk than other groups. As part of the partnership, the National Urban League will support the promotion of the HPF's 888-995-HOPE hotline, which is available 24/7 nationwide to homeowners concerned about their finances and the possibility of foreclosure. Callers receive free, confidential advice from expert counselors from HUD-approved counseling agencies. Those who are in need of additional face-to-face counseling and education will be referred to the Urban League affiliate in their city. Foreclosure rates in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are above average and rising. For the first quarter of 2006, the city ranked 25th nationwide for foreclosures, according to RealtyTrac, Inc., which tracks properties in some stage of foreclosure. In September, the entire Philadelphia metropolitan area had one foreclosure per 1,016 households. In Philadelphia County, where the heart of the city lies, the rate was one foreclosure per 662 households. During the third quarter of 2006, the number of foreclosures in the entire state grew 26.5 percent, compared to the same period in 2005, according to RealtyTrac Inc. There was one foreclosure per 587 households, putting Pennsylvania in the top 21 states for foreclosure rates. The National Urban League Foreclosure Prevention and Education Program is focused on prevention and intervention and aims to reduce the numbers of foreclosures among African-American homeowners. It is part of a partnership in which the Homeownership Preservation Foundation is providing up to $1.2 million over a 3-year period to help the National Urban League and its local affiliates provide free foreclosure prevention counseling and education to African-American homeowners in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Houston, where foreclosure rates are hitting new heights. "Our partnership with the National Urban League and the Homeownership Preservation Foundation will help more African Americans in our city to preserve not only their homes but their credit record and help them continue to grow financially," said Patricia A. Coulter, President and CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia. The program consists of default counseling, involving intensive counseling with homeowners to help them avoid foreclosure, and post-purchase homeownership classes that will cover such topics as budgeting, property and school taxes, debt management, home maintenance and repair.