Thursday, July 05, 2012 • 9:29 AM Comments ()

What Are We Waiting For?

posted by Maureen Turner

Activists are applauding a recent federal court ruling that upholds some tough anti-foreclosure ordinances passed unanimously last year by the City Council—and calling on the Sarno administration to being applying the new laws.

Under the ordinances, mortgage lenders must participate in a city-facilitated mediation process before they can foreclose on a property owner. In addition, once a lender has taken a house, it must put up a $10,000 bond, an effort to ensure that it will maintain the vacant property. The ordinances were criticized by the Mass Bankers Association, and several local banks sued the city, arguing that the Council has overreached its authority and that the ordinances violate state and federal law.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Court judge Michael Ponsor ruled against the bank plaintiffs, calling the ordinances a “modest effort by the city to soften this crisis” and saying the ordinances violate neither federal or state law.

“Widespread mortgage foreclosures undisputably [sic] are an issue of serious public concern to municipalities like Springfield,” wrote Ponsor, who also found that city attorneys had “made a sufficient showing that the Foreclosure Ordinance was necessary to protect a basic societal interest, was tailored appropriately to that purpose, and imposed reasonable conditions.”

The ordinances went into effect late last year but have yet to be enforced, due to the lawsuit. Following Ponsor’s ruling, backers of the ordinances are calling on City Hall to start enforcing the new requirements immediately. This morning, activists including members of the anti-foreclosure group Springfield No One Leaves/Nadie Se Mude held a rally outside City Hall, after which they planned to deliver a letter to Mayor Domenic Sarno asking him to begin implementing the ordinances.

“We’ve been ready to move on this since last summer, and we continue to be ready to work with the city to take our city back,” Malcolm Chu, an organizer with SNOL, said in a press release after Ponsor’s ruling. “We expect the Mayor and the city to move quickly to enforce this ordinance and look forward to being involved in the process.”

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