Judge hears challenge to Springfield foreclosures

Associated Press Published: June 27, 2012

BOSTON (AP) — A federal judge heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit by six banks seeking to overturn two anti-foreclosure ordinances in Springfield.

U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor did not immediately rule Wednesday after hearing arguments from lawyers representing the banks and the city of Springfield.

The banks sued after the Springfield City Council passed the ordinances last summer. One of the ordinances would require mortgage lenders to engage in mediation with homeowners facing foreclosure or face a $300-per-day fine. The other would require lenders to put up a $10,000 bond to secure and maintain their foreclosed and vacant properties.

Advocates say the measures will help people stay in their homes and fight urban blight.

"One of the things about the mandatory mediation is that it mandates that all sides explore all commercially reasonable alternatives to foreclosure," said Malcolm Chu, a community organizer with Springfield No One Leaves, a group formed to advocate for homeowners facing foreclosure.

Springfield, a city of about 150,000 in western Massachusetts, has been hard hit by the economic downturn. The number of completed mortgage foreclosures in Springfield more than doubled from 23 in April 2011 to 48 this past April.

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