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Worcester foreclosure mediation program moves closer to reality

In what has become an ongoing debate between the city council and the city manager, the city of Worcester has taken one more step toward approving a mandatory foreclosure mediation program for some struggling homeowners and their lenders.

The mandatory foreclosure mediation program, which has been strongly supported by the community's Anti-Foreclosure Team, was preliminarily approved by the council in an 11-0 vote. The final vote will come next month and if it is approved the program will require lenders to work with homeowners living in their own real estate properties and a loan counselor to try to work out mortgage terms. Lenders who would fail to abide by the mediation requirement would be financially penalized by the city at a rate of $300 per day.

Supporters of the ordinance hope to help Worcester residents who are fighting to keep their homes and to reduce the number of foreclosures in the city. While many are in favor of the initiative, City Manager Michael V. O'Brien continues to advocate for waiting for more information before implementing the new requirements.

He claims that the city of Springfield is currently in litigation over a similar city ordinance and it would be beneficial for Worcester to see how that matter resolves before creating its own mandatory mediation plan. He also questions where the funding will come from to support the ordinance if it is passed.

Though his concerns may be valid, it appears that the Worcester City Council is in full agreement on its desire to pass the mandatory foreclosure mediation ordinance over Mr. O'Brien's recommendations. People in the community will only have to wait a little longer to find out if the final vote follows the preliminary vote recently taken or if council members are swayed by the city manager's concerns.

Source: Worcester Telegram, "Worcester City Council backs foreclosure mediation," Nick Kotsopoulos, Nov. 13, 2013

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