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Council backs foreclosure protections

By Jenifer Mckim
Globe Staff / May 21, 2009
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The Boston City Council last night approved three home-rule petitions aimed at helping neighborhoods deal with a growing foreclosure problem.

The council voted in favor of the regulations, which will go to Mayor Thomas M. Menino for his signature. The Legislature must also approve the rules.

The first petition seeks to protect tenants and former owners in foreclosed buildings from eviction. Residents would be required to pay rent until the distressed properties were resold. The second petition would impose a 180-day moratorium on foreclosures for owners of some homes. The moratorium would be limited to borrowers whose loans were considered unfair.

The third petition would create a foreclosure mediation program.

Boston is the third city in the state to approve such anti-foreclosure measures, following Worcester and Lawrence, said Grace Ross, coordinator of the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending.

"I think there was a real consensus that throwing people out does not help anybody," said Maureen Feeney, chairwoman of the City Council's committee on government operations.

Foreclosures in the city jumped 73 percent last year to 1,219, from 705 in 2007, according to the Warren Group, which tracks real estate transactions. In the first three months of this year, 257 homeowners in Boston lost their properties to foreclosure.