Grace Ross among advocates calling for empowerment of local officials to combat foreclosure spike [plus video]

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BOSTON — Arguing that the current rate of foreclosures is worse than anything Massachusetts has seen since the run up to the American Revolution in 1763, activists and homeowners Tuesday pushed the Legislature to clarify the rights of municipalities to try to prevent foreclosures and minimize their damage.

Passage of a one-sentence bill (H 4553) filed late last month by Rep. Jose F. Tosado, D-Springfield, would give cities and towns the clear authority necessary to use their health and safety powers to implement programs like pre-foreclosure mediation without expanding the rights of municipalities, supporters said.

“Except where explicitly denied by the General Laws, municipalities shall have authority to enact laws for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of residents by minimizing foreclosures and ensuring the upkeep of vacant properties and those in foreclosure,” the bill reads in its entirety.

Grace Ross of Worcester, coordinator for the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending, said the bill would allow cities like Worcester and Lynn to again run pre-foreclosure mediation programs that are on hold following a Supreme Judicial Court decision that questioned the cities’ authority to establish such programs.

Watch: Ross, others speak at a hearing this week

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