The U.S. Conference of Mayors honored Mayor Nutter and Common Pleas Judge Annette Rizzo yesterday for a city program that helps homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure.

"The Mortgage Foreclosure Protection Program was chosen because helping residents maintain home ownership is a priority for the nation's mayors," said Jocelyn Bogen, director of the conference's City Livability Awards Program.

The program was picked for this year's Outstanding Achievement Award by former mayors of large cities out of a list of programs in 200 cities.

Bogen said the program offers "tangible solutions," and cited how more than 1,800 homes have been saved since the program's inception in June 2008. Another 3,500 cases are still being processed through the program.

Nutter called the award a great honor and noted that the program's success was about more than numbers.

"This is about real people, real families, real neighbors and people that we know," said Nutter.

Under the program, outreach groups visit neighborhoods where houses are slated for foreclosure, then residents in trouble can visit Courtroom 676 in City Hall to consult with volunteer lawyers and housing advocates to negotiate their mortgages with their lender.

Nutter and other officials said they hope to see more programs similar to the Philadelphia model in other American cities.