Massachusetts Presses Lenders on Foreclosures

Across the country, thousands of people are losing their homes because payments on their subprime loans have increased to the point that they can't afford the loans.

But in Massachusetts, where foreclosure filings have nearly doubled during the past year, the governor is asking lenders to give homeowners more time.

The move follows a recent protest at Gov. Deval Patrick's office by homeowners who said their loan officers and mortgage brokers lied to them about the interest rates they would pay on their subprime loans.

"I have a 4-year-old son. I work hard. I'm a single parent. I have a good job. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. I cry every night because I don't know what's going to happen the next day," said protester Raymona Bowen, who stood to lose her home in a matter of days.

Advocates singled out Patrick, in part, because before his election he served on the board of Ameriquest Mortgage Co., one of the nation's biggest subprime lenders.

As a result of the meeting, state officials have made calls on homeowners' behalf. In most cases, they've gotten the lenders to agree to delay the foreclosures.

The goal is to help both sides work out a solution.

"In many cases, lenders don't want to be in the home-ownership business. They'd rather have the loan repaid," Patrick said.

The state's Division of Banks, which supervises more than 270 state-chartered banks and credit unions with about $240 billion total assets, is seeking a two-month reprieve for those who are about to go into foreclosure.

Borrowers will first have to file a complaint. Then they will be put in touch with nonprofit groups that advise on refinancing options.

Lenders are also being urged to modify the terms of unaffordable adjustable-rate loans.

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