Foreclosure filings jumped nearly 50% in February

Germantown resident Rhonda Lancaster is one of many in Pennsylvania facing foreclosure.

Rhonda Lancaster is a fighter. She inherited it from her mother, a former Black Panther. But now Lancaster finds herself going against a massive, complex opponent: foreclosure.

Lancaster, a local musician who has played with acts such as Earth, Wind and Fire, is trying to keep the Germantown home where she’s lived for 35 years. Her mother signed a reverse mortgage near the end of her life, but Lancaster was unable to get her name on the deed. Much of her money went to paying her mother’s medical bills, making it hard to keep up with the mortgage, and shortly after her mother passed in 2009, the home went into foreclosure, she said.

Despite appealing to lawyers and seeking legal counsel, Lancaster has been unable to modify the loan or get financial assistance. Yet, she doesn’t plan to pack up and go. “I refuse to lay down and take it,” Lancaster said last week in front of her house, where a large banner reads “Keep families in their homes.” “Somebody has to stand up. This steamrolling has to be stopped.”

More Philadelphia homeowners are finding themselves in Lancaster’s position. In February, the Philadelphia area saw a huge jump in foreclosure filings, with one filing for every 828 homes. That was up 47 percent from February 2011, according to RealtyTrac, which analyzes data nationwide. Miami and Tampa, both in Florida, were the only metropolitan areas that saw a bigger spike.

Last week, some of Lancaster’s fellow musicians held an event at her home to raise awareness about her situation. Neighbors and friends have also joined in protesting her eviction, which could happen any day.

Cheri Honkala, founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and a longtime advocate for homeowners, said Lancaster’s case is shedding light on a serious problem. “People are really beginning to unite with this idea [of supporting their neighbors],” she said. “They’re against adding more blight to the neighborhood.”

Behind the rising numbers

Experts say the dramatic increase in foreclosure filings is the result of a multibillion-dollar settlement between 49 states and five of the nation’s largest lenders. The settlement laid out clear steps for banks to proceed with foreclosures, and some banks are now pushing through foreclosures that had been delayed.

“I do anticipate that overall we’re going to see an increase in [foreclosures] in 2012 from 2011,” RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said. “These delays were in place for a long time, over a year, so I think we’re going to see the increases from a [month] ago happen pretty much throughout this year.”

At the same time, Pennsylvania’s successful Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program ended due to lack of funding and a federal program has also expired.  

Free seminar

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewel Williams is offering a free mortgage foreclosure prevention seminar April 9 at Temple University.
   
Williams’ office said it will be the first in a series of free seminars to help homeowners. Those interested must call 215-686-3539 to register.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.