News & Media Coverage

Brockton Interfaith Community board member meets with Treasury Secretary Geithner about foreclosures

November 13, 2010  |  The Brockton Enterprise  |  Link to article

 By Erik Potter

Enterprise StaffWriter

Posted Nov 14, 2010 @ 06:00 AM

BROCKTON — A Brockton Interfaith Community board member met recently with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about the foreclosure problem in Brockton and the country.

 Kris McDonald was one of a group of about 25 community activists from across the country who met with Geithner on Nov. 3, to talk about how the Treasury Department could help homeowners facing foreclosure, particularly through reforms to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, passed in 2008 to stabilize the banking sector.

They met for an hour with Treasury officials in the media conference room in the Treasury building, including 35 minutes with Geithner.

Some of their requests included: Lengthening HAMP’s forbearance period from three months to 12 months to better accommodate unemployed homeowners.

Imposing penalties on banks that don’t follow the rules of HAMP.

Requiring banks to forgive principal on mortgages when their internal tests show that it’s in their interest to do so.

Preventing unemployed homeowners from being foreclosed upon while applying for assistance from a new federal loan program.

The group used the same approach to their meeting that BIC uses in meetings with Brockton officials: a specific agenda with time limits for each item and a suggested solution for every problem.

“At the end, he said, ‘I really appreciate the work you did, and you didn’t just come in here and express frustration, but made practical proposals,’” McDonald said. “I think we accomplished a lot there in moving things along.”

Geithner promised the group a written response to their suggestions within 30 days, and also agreed to a follow­up meeting between the group and Assistant Secretary Michael Barr.

BIC has been very active in the foreclosure crisis, which has hit Brockton especially hard.

They helped push through state reforms that prevent renters from being evicted from their apartments if their landlords default on their mortgage. Gov. Deval Patrick signed the legislation at a ceremony in Brockton this summer. 

Brockton had 62 foreclosure notices and deeds filed in October – nearly a quarter of the entire Plymouth County total.

Through October, the county has seen a 63 percent increase in foreclosure notices – the initial stage in foreclosure proceedings – and a 48 percent increase in foreclosure deeds – the final stage in the process – over 2009.