THE FORECLOSURE crisis is serious enough to have hit both the U.S. economy and the world economy. But our worries are closer to home. A residential city like Philadelphia can suffer with too many foreclosures. Even a single foreclosed house can impact an entire community if that home becomes abandoned. So the city is right to be stepping up its involvement by getting those at risk to seek help.

The mayor himself is urging troubled homeonwers to call a hot line created as part of a new program intitated by the courts. The number - 215-334-HOME - puts callers in touch with legal and other help. For consumers, having someone working on their behalf to keep them in their home can be a godsend.

Of course, we know that the Lord both giveth and taketh: It's sadly ironic that this good program comes at the same time a Senate bill is at play in Harrisburg that would allow for-profit companies to offer credit counseling in Pennsylvania. Right now, credit-counseling agencies are nonprofit, which means they are not likely to compromise their value to people in financial trouble by trying to sell them other services. We have already criticized a similiar House bill. Both of these are the last thing troubled consumers need. *