More Plymouth County families will be facing the threat of foreclosure this holiday season than at any point in the housing crisis so far, according to a review of Registry of Deeds figures. In October, the number of foreclosure notices spiked to the highest level yet, with 317 Plymouth County homeowners receiving the notices.
Amid rising joblessness, more Plymouth County families will be facing the threat of foreclosure this holiday season than at any point in the housing crisis so far, a review of figures from the Registry of Deeds shows.
In October, the number of foreclosure notices spiked to the highest level yet, with 317 Plymouth County homeowners receiving the notices.
In the prior two months, 395 foreclosure notices went out — making for the largest number of foreclosure notices over a three-month period in the past three years, according to the review by The Enterprise.
Local officials cited rising unemployment as the driving force.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better, unless something is done about it,” said Janine Carreiro, lead organizer for the Brockton Interfaith Community, a coalition of local religious groups working to fight foreclosures.
Foreclosure notices are the first step for a lender that wants to seize property. Typically between one-third and a half of those will lead to actual foreclosures, said Plymouth County Registrar of Deeds John Buckley.
The number of foreclosure notices in October reached the highest point since the Registry of Deeds began posting the figures online in March 2007, according to the review.
Brockton saw the most foreclosure notices of any community with 97, while Middleboro had 22 and Bridgewater, Abington, East Bridgewater and Rockland each had eight.
Buckley said some of the notices were the result of a state Land Court decision that required some to be refiled. But most likely 80 percent were new foreclosure notices, he said.
Job losses are the main factor behind this wave of foreclosures, unlike previous waves that were tied to subprime mortgage problems, said Brian Moriarty, director of Neighborhood Housing Services in Brockton, a housing counseling program.
“What we’re seeing is that unemployment has really taken over as the predominant reason for foreclosure,” he said.
The number of foreclosure notices “had been seriously declining over the last year,” Buckley said. “There was a lot of hope that we were over that crisis.”
But after dropping to 64 foreclosure notices in July, the numbers began rising in August:
From August to October of this year, 712 foreclosure notices have been filed in Plymouth County.
Last year, by comparison, 398 foreclosure notices were filed during that period.
Between February and April 2008, 653 foreclosure notices were filed, the highest in a three-month period until now.
Last month, the number of newly filed foreclosure deeds — representing a foreclosed home — reached the highest level since mid-2008, with 125 foreclosure deeds recorded in Plymouth County.
Carreiro said it now appears every employment sector, including health care, has been shedding jobs.
The unemployment rate in Plymouth County reached 9.7 percent in September, according to state figures.
Meanwhile, some homeowners who’ve been able to keep their jobs have seen overtime pay slashed that they had come to rely upon to make mortgage payments, Carreiro said.
Carreiro said she hopes some of the pledges made by congressmen and Federal Reserve officials earlier this month at a Brockton Interfaith event will help to end the crisis.
In particular, she said U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is working on a bill that would let unemployed homeowners receive loans to pay their mortgages using federal stimulus funds.
“It would be meant for the big gap of middle-class Americans who were doing OK until the job bust,” Carreiro said.
Locally, foreclosure counseling continues to be available to struggling homeowners. Moriarty said he hopes people who receive foreclosure notices won’t wait to seek help because of the holidays.
“People become distracted, but with such an important issue like this, the sooner they come in, the better,” he said.
People can call Neighborhood Housing Services at 508-895-1782. The center’s final preforeclosure clinic of the year will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 2, at HarborOne Credit Union’s Multi Cultural Banking Center, 68 Legion Parkway. People who want to attend should call in advance to reserve a spot at the clinic.
Kyle Alspach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.