New Help for Will County Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

June 07, 2010

The Illinois Supreme Court today unveiled a residential foreclosure mediation program for homeowners in Will County.

Chicago Real EstateThe new program was devised to help keep families in their homes, to ease the financial and emotional burden of foreclosures, and to prevent vacant and abandoned houses from driving down property values.

The program will set up a mandatory meeting between the homeowner facing foreclosure and an outside mediator, who will help to determine whether the home can be saved.

The meetings will be automatically scheduled within 60 days of a foreclosure filing. The mediator will focus on a loan modification or other solution; if one can’t be found, the mediator will help with the waiver of any deficiency against the homeowner.

“Obviously, this is an attempt to begin to solve a serious societal problem,” said Chief Judge Gerald Kinney, who helped formulate the program. “Foreclosures are tearing up our neighborhoods and our communities. This is an effort to lend some stability to what could be a financially and emotionally chaotic process. It’s a way for the courts to help address some of these community problems.”

Judge Kinney said he believes Will County’s rate of foreclosure is as high as any other in the state. From June 2008 to June 2009, there were 5,541 foreclosures filed in Will County. The Judge estimates that between 2,700 and 3,000 cases would be screened annually for mediation.

The list of mediators, as compiled by Judge Kinney, are retired judges or attorneys with a minimum of five years experience in the mortgage foreclosure field. Each mediator will be paid $150 per file.

The program, which is expected to begin August 1, will incur no additional expenses from taxpayers and will be funded through an increase in each plaintiff’s foreclosure filing fee from $276 to $426.

“This is a new program, and it’s an innovative way to do it without a lot of government bureaucracy,” said Judge Kinney. “The lenders are going to have to pay a bit more in filing fees but in the long run it’s far less expensive and less risky for them, and more beneficial to neighborhood communities than watching an abandoned home deteriorate and take down surrounding home values with it.”

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