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Proposed law aims to protect homeowners from private tax lien sales

The Dartmouth town administrator thumbs through documents before auctioning off some properties with tax liens.


Newly proposed state legislation would limit the profits that private companies make by buying tax liens from cash-strapped municipalities and foreclosing on homes if tax debts go unpaid. The bill, versions of which were filed Jan. 16 in the Massachusetts House and Senate, would restrict financial gains made by third-party investment firms who are increasingly buying municipal debts and seeking to foreclose on homeowners. Instead, any proceeds from a sale would go to the property owner and town, while third parties would be allowed smaller profits on interest and fees. The legislation, among other things, would require companies to more clearly explain to delinquent homeowners how their tax debts could lead to a property seizure; remove the penalty of arrest for tax delinquency; require companies that buy liens to be licensed by the state as debt collectors; and make it easier for towns and cities to help troubled residents – especially the elderly and disabled – pay what they owe. Continue Reading →

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What is private mortgage insurance, and how can it end up suing you?

Foreclosure House

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found that more than 200 Massachusetts home owners and thousands more across the United States have been pursued by mortgage insurers for losses ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to more than $200,000 since the foreclosure crisis began. And consumer have scant control over whether their insurance company will demand money from them after a foreclosure. Continue Reading →

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Foreclosure echo

Guillermo Galindo

When Guillermo Galindo lost his two-family Revere home to foreclosure in 2009, the soft-spoken Colombian thought he had finally freed himself from the flood of threatening collection letters from his lender and a ballooning, untenable debt. But that hope evaporated months later when Galindo received a letter from a lawyer claiming he owed $136,547 in losses for the family home he’d left behind. Continue Reading →

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Report: Hundreds of at-risk Mass. kids are revictimized

Jeremiah Oliver

Allegations of child abuse outside of children’s homes rose by 16 percent in Massachusetts in 2013, according to a new state report, providing fresh incentive for Governor-elect Charlie Baker and his administration to continue focusing on vulnerable children after a tumultuous year for child welfare officials. Continue Reading →

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Failed projects and weak oversight lead to loss of state’s wetlands

A 3.4 acre constructed wetland is thriving near the Alewife MBTA station. Most wetland construction efforts, however, fail, and the state is now evaluating new ways to save soggy places that filter pollution, host hundreds of species and control floodwaters.

Three decades ago, Massachusetts became a darling of the environmental movement for requiring developers to replace virtually every square foot of wetlands they destroyed to build houses, parking lots and shopping malls. The policy was designed to slow the destruction of one of nature’s most underappreciated resources: Swamps, marshes, seasonal ponds and other soggy places. Today, the state’s landscape is pocked with hundreds of examples of that policy’s failure. Continue Reading →

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Physician society urges better understanding of new prenatal tests

A pregnant woman

A national society of high-risk obstetricians urged health professionals to be more vigilant about prenatal screening tests in response to a New England Center for Investigative Reporting story that showed that some doctors and patients are placing too much faith in the tests' results, with several women inadvertently aborting healthy fetuses. Continue Reading →

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Mass. appeals court upholds ruling dismissing DCF lawsuit

DCF Logo

A nonprofit’s effort to improve Massachusetts' struggling child welfare system hit another roadblock this week with an appeals court decision that closed the door on an effort to get the federal court to oversee reform. The court on Dec. 15 upheld a lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit filed against the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Chief Judge Sandra Lynch of the US First Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the 40-page decision that a district court judge – while pointing out major deficiencies in the child welfare system – was correct in dismissing the suit filed by the New York-based national advocacy organization, Children’s Rights. Continue Reading →

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