From the Philly Inquirer:
Homeowners facing foreclosure got a holiday reprieve Thursday as Philadelphia’s top judge ordered a 30-day moratorium on sheriff’s sales while waiting for a federal relief program to arrive in January.
At the urging of advocates and City Council, and with the approval of Sheriff John Green, Common Pleas Court President Judge Pamela Dembe on Wednesday issued a stay on sales scheduled for Jan. 4.
Citing “the extraordinary and exigent circumstances surrounding the forthcoming sheriff sale and unprecedented relief that has been established by the federal government,” Dembe ordered the stay and scheduled a hearing on Jan. 13.
City Council members Jannie L. Blackwell and Curtis Jones Jr. urged the moratorium at the behest of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, the grassroots advocate for unemployed and low-income workers, which lobbied for the delay to allow a federal foreclosure-intervention program to take effect.
Most of the 1,498 properties listed for sale are residential and could be affected, said Chief Deputy Sheriff Barbara Deeley. The rule will apply only to owner-occupied homes, Deeley said Thursday. Owners will have the burden of proving they live in those homes. The PUP estimated that 1,200 homes are listed for sale in its emergency petition Thursday.
“There’s a lot of happy campers in this city who were going to lose their homes right before New Year’s,” John Dodds, executive director for the PUP, said upon learning of the cancellation of January’s sheriff’s sale.
Without the cancellation, homeowners would have faced a total loss. By contrast, he said, “the loss for a bank is you have to wait a month.”
“In light of the holiday season, this moratorium on sheriff sales will be the best present people living under the foreclosure glare and experiencing distress could receive,” Jones said.