Mayor Nutter on Wednesday announced an aggressive outreach effort to prevent property owners in foreclosure from losing their homes.
Nutter announced a hotline where homeowners can receive housing counseling and take advantage of a new court process that targets foreclosure cases. The hotline, which Nutter will push in radio, television and print ads, is (215) 334-HOME.
In addition, four two-person teams are going through a list of more than 300 homeowners in foreclosure and knocking on their doors. Each team includes a representative from the Mayor's Office of Community Services and one from one of several housing advocacy agencies.
The first teams went out on Saturday and knocked on 32 doors, reaching 20 homeowners, said Terry Gillen, the mayor's senior adviser on commerce. Eighteen of those homeowners called the hotline.
Sheriff John Green suspended sales of owner-occupied foreclosed properties for April and May, establishing a separate track for these cases and requiring conferences with lenders to see if a deal can be worked out. The first of those meetings will be next week.
About 160 lawyers have already signed up for training to represent homeowners, many on a volunteer basis, Judge Annette Rizzo, who is spearheading the program, said Wednesday.
The city is now trying to reach a list of 667 homeowners, who were sent court notices about their conferences. Only about 50 responded, Rizzo said, but it is typical for people in foreclosure to shun court notices, officials and advocates said. Nutter is hoping the door-knocking initiative will be an effective way to convince people to get help.