Government Accountability

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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?

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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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In aftermath of gun tragedies, radically different responses in Conn., Ariz.

One of the many reminders of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting around Newtown, Conn. The heart has 26 crosses, one for each victim of the 2012 shooting. Photo by Morgan Spiehs/News 21.

In the weeks after the Conn. and Ariz. mass shootings, background checks and weapons bans consumed political debates in every corner of the country. Families of victims pleaded for stronger regulation, while gun-rights advocates stocked up on ammunition, fearing impending restrictions. This report is part of the project titled “Gun Wars: The Struggle Over Rights and Regulation in America,” produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative. Continue Reading →

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Questionable management, lax oversight, contribute to long delays in issuing of death certificates in Mass.

Kimberly Parker’s brother and sister, Ed Boleza and Stephanie Deeley, have been vocal about the need for answers since her death. (Lauren Owens/NECIR)

An enormous number of lives have been put on hold because of the state Medical Examiner’s inability to timely process death. While state officials have singled out underfunding as a key reason, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found questionable management decisions and a pattern of lax oversight contributing to long delays in producing death certificates. Continue Reading →

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