By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Members of Philadelphia City Council are urging the city’s court system to “maintain and expand” its Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program.  They want to make sure funding, and the commitment to run it, remain intact.

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Councilwoman Marian Tasco was instrumental in setting up the pilot program in 2008, just as the number of city foreclosure filings exceeded 8,000.

“It was very simple: just allow the potential buyer to get counseling prior to purchasing a home,” she recalls.

Councilman Curtis Jones, in complimenting his colleague’s work, says the conciliation conferences for all new foreclosure actions have significantly improved the chances for homeowners facing foreclosure to remain in their homes.

“This is another one of Philadelphia’s firsts, and probably one of its finest, in which they’ve saved thousands of homes,” he said.

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Councilwoman Tasco says systematic solutions, including funding the pilot program here, are needed to address the recurring problem of mortgage foreclosures.

RealtyTrac reported earlier this month that February foreclosure filings in the Philadelphia metropolitan area rose 47 percent from the same month a year ago.


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