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PNS Daily Newscast - October 22, 2020 


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MA Foreclosures Jump 22% - Will the Housing Plan Help Stop the Pain?

February 20, 2009

Boston, MA – President Obama’s Homeowner Stability Initiative appears to have arrived just in time for Massachusetts. The commonwealth saw a 22-percent jump in home foreclosures in January, according to The Warren Group. However, some worry the rescue plan will not save many in Massachuseetts.

Eileen Appelbaum, economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has read the plan's fine print and says some Bay Staters at risk of foreclosure will be helped, but most others won’t under the program guidelines. Those who are helped, she adds, still face an uncertain future if they go to sell their home, since they could still lack equity.

"They look like they’re owners. They own the piece of paper that says they're an owner. But in reality, in the essence of the thing, they’re basically renters."

Appelbaum says allowing people to rent their homes is not a bad idea, and her organization is recommending that foreclosure judges be given the power to allow those in foreclosure to rent at a fair market rate. The upside is that it wouldn’t cost the government a dime; the downside is that people still wouldn’t own their homes.

"Those of us who were prudent don’t have to pay for those mistakes. There’s no windfall for the homeowner; they get to live in their house, but they don’t get to own it. And, there’s no cost to the taxpayer."

Another wrinkle – banks would likely still come up short on the loan at some point, according to Appelbaum, who says, if banks gambled on making the loan, they should suffer those consequences.

President Obama’s plan offers incentives to banks to offer refinancing, and pays them a dividend if they do. Appelbaum says, while that brings money to the banks in the short-term, in the long-term, the homes being refinanced are still worth less than the loan, even many years later, unless the market goes through another bubble.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MA