President Judge C. Darnell Jones today told City Council that the First Judicial District is developing a program to assist homeowners at risk of losing their houses due to problems with subprime mortgages. That means no moratorium on sheriff's sales, as called for by Council and Sheriff John Green last month, Jones said. "Realistically, it's simply not the answer because it doesn't help anyone," Jones said later. "It just postpones the inevitable."
The new program, which may be in place by Monday, would provide legal, financial and housing assistance to people who live in homes that may be foreclosed. Jones said it would exclude commercial, rental and abandoned properties, which will be up for auction when sheriff's sales resume on May 6 . A total moratorium, Jones said, did not appear to be required or legal.
Subprime mortgages, with interest rates that can increase, are often issued to buyers with credit problems who cannot afford conventional mortgages. Green last month said he would ask Jones to institute a six-month moratorium on sheriff's sales. Philadelphia sheriff sales have been declining for the last four years but Green yesterday said he remains concerned when even one homeowner faces foreclosure.