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Pilot Program in Indiana Aims to Promote Mediation

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By : John Smith    99 or more times read
The State of Indiana has started making renewed efforts to implement a nine month old bill that is intended to replace foreclosures with mediated solutions. This time it’s taking the novel approach of paying incentives to mediators.

State Government and Judicial Administrators released details on Wednesday of pilot projects in Marion and two other counties aimed at getting parties to the negotiating table through the application of incentives.

The program will pay facilitators $150 per every four successful mediations between lenders and financially embarrassed borrowers. There’s also a further $150 on offer to attorneys and logistical co-coordinators provided settlement is reached that extends the period of grace before foreclosure by at least 60 days.

Let’s hope, for everybody’s sake, that the principle of pay-for-performance works in this instance too, because there’s a lot rolling on it in Indiana.

The pilot project, which will be rolled out later to all Indiana Counties, will be financed from the $50 fee that lenders now have to pay to file a foreclosure in the State of Indiana.

To date, the State law requiring mediation before foreclosure hasn’t really worked – by the end of 2009 just 2% of eligible borrowers have exercised their rights to mediation.

This is a disgrace. Are things getting that bad that financially disadvantaged Americans have stopped believing in the open arms of Liberty?

According to Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, the current drive aims to personally induce troubled home owners to work through the settlement process aided by energized facilitators. The program envisages ensuring that homeowners complete all the paperwork required so that they do not trip on administrative hurdles.

“This partnership will allow us to reach troubled borrowers more effectively and get them on the road to recovery,” an influential insider told me yesterday.

Marion Superior Judge Cynthia Ayers has high hopes that the re-jigged program will get more troubled householders into settlement conferences that could avert foreclosure. She told me that many threatened borrowers just don’t know their rights, and that the opportunity was stapled to the back of a stack of foreclosure documents up to twenty thick.

At least from now on, borrowers in the pilot areas will be contacted by telephone by a facilitator who will personally help them understand that they have the option of negotiating a mortgage modification that would have the effect of reducing their monthly payments.

One in 356 housing units in the Marion Metro Area was in foreclosure sometime in February 2010 – that means that 2,119 households were under threat that month, down by just 69 families compared to the same time last year. Since July last year around $600,000 has been collected in foreclosures fees. It’s not a lot of money, however, in these troubled times, every bit helps.
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