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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen congratulates Debra Tuttle, Nathan DeLadurantey and Jay Pitner, recipients of the Judge Dale E. Ihlenfeldt Bankruptcy Award. The three individuals received the award in recognition of their work on the Eastern District Bankruptcy Court’s Mortgage Modification Mediation Program (the “MMM” program), which is a confidential and voluntary process through which a homeowner and lender may discuss options for modifying the homeowner’s mortgage. The inability to afford mortgage payments is often the predominant issue for homeowners seeking Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief and the MMM program helps keep qualified debtors in their homes.
Award recipient Debra Tuttle is Executive Director of the Metro Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program (MMFMP). The MMFMP, which began in July of 2009, has helped more than 3,000 families. A survey, which included both lender’s counsel and homeowners, found that 98% of program participants would recommend the program to others in foreclosure. Attorney General Van Hollen and the Department of Justice have provided almost $1 million to the MMFMP with settlement funds from the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement and a prior settlement with Countrywide Financial Corporation.
When the Eastern District Bankruptcy Bar recognized the need for a bankruptcy mortgage mediation program, it turned to Debra and the MMFMP model for assistance. Debra and her co-recipients were instrumental in designing a mediation model that is effective and efficient in the bankruptcy setting. Now, the Western District Bankruptcy Court of Wisconsin is preparing to launch a similar program, and Tuttle is assisting bankruptcy courts in other states to design similar programs.
Working with multiple bankruptcy courts is just a part of the valuable work Debra has done in the mortgage mediation arena. With the funding from Attorney General Van Hollen and the Department of Justice, the MMFMP recently launched the Wisconsin Foreclosure Mediation Network to assist other counties with foreclosure mediation programs, through regional centers in Wausau, La Crosse, Hudson/Eau Claire, Madison, Oshkosh and Green Bay. The program will also “network” existing programs around the state, and provide those programs with resources and support. With the network, and bankruptcy programs, mortgage mediation will be available to all homeowners in Wisconsin who are facing foreclosure.
“Congratulations to Debra Tuttle on this well-deserved award. Debra has become a state and national leader in the field of mortgage modification mediation. Her program is being replicated in counties around the state, and the model she helped designed for the bankruptcy court is being implemented in courts throughout the country,” said Attorney General Van Hollen. “We are very proud to have been an early supporter of Debra’s vision, and we are glad to support her continued efforts. The fact that Debra is receiving this award with a creditor’s attorney and a debtor’s attorney underscores my belief that foreclosure mediation works for all the parties involved – the creditor, the debtor and the community at large.”