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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Metro Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program Announce New, Improved Process for Homeowners Seeking Mediation Services

 

“This newly revised model of the mediation process does more to ensure homeowners get the assistance and answers they need more quickly and efficiently, and ensures that the parties stay at the table until the matter is resolved,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.

 

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Metro Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program (MMFMP) announced today that a new, improved process is in place for homeowners facing foreclosure and seeking mediation services.  Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process where the homeowner and the lender discuss options for resolving the foreclosure case, including reinstatement of the loan and possible modification of the loan terms. 

 

On February 18, 2013, the Honorable Jeffrey A. Kremers, Chief Judge of Milwaukee County Circuit Court, signed the directive that requires notice of mediation be made available with the Summons and Complaint of Foreclosure, and that outlines the program details.  The MMFMP is administered by the Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Courts with funding from the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ).

 

“This newly revised model of the mediation process does more to ensure homeowners get the assistance and answers they need more quickly and efficiently, and ensures that the parties stay at the table until the matter is resolved,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. 

 

Debra Tuttle, Executive Director and Chief Mediator with the Metro Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program, shared one family’s recent experience with the program.  Tuttle said, after a series of job losses, three generations pooled their incomes and moved into the same home with their lender offering them a loan modification and lower interest rate.

 

“Unfortunately, the process took seven month, five mediation sessions, and the exchange of more than 250 pages of documents,” Tuttle said.  “Our new program model is the product of a collaborative effort between all of the stakeholders to the mediation process.  We really focused on identifying and eliminating the key obstacles to successful mediations.  The result is a more streamlined program using cutting-edge technology to facilitate the mediation for everyone involved.  This should produce better results across the board.”

 

Homeowners may visit mediatewisconsin.com to learn more about mediation eligibility and to fill out a “Mediation Request” form.  Typically, within 30 days of the date of receiving the foreclosure Summons and Complaint, homeowners should complete the Mediation Request Form and return it to the MMFMP to begin the application process.  However, interested parties are encouraged to contact the MMFMP at any time during the foreclosure process because sometimes mediation is available even after 30 days have passed.

 

With funding from the DOJ, the MMFMP announced last November the launch of the Wisconsin Foreclosure Mediation Network.  This Network is assisting other counties with starting foreclosure mediation programs, with regional centers in Wausau, La Crosse, Hudson/Eau Claire, Oshkosh and Green Bay.  The program also will “network” existing programs around the state, and provide those programs with resources and support. 

 

Under the Joint-State Federal Mortgage Servicing Settlement announced in early 2012 involving the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers, Attorney General Van Hollen allocated $458,550 for the continuation and expansion of the network’s foreclosure mediation services.  A renewed memorandum of agreement between the DOJ and Milwaukee County continues support for the MMFMP beginning January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2013, and commits additional funds to work on expansion of the program statewide beginning October 1, 2012, through December 31, 2013. 

 

As of July 2012, the MMFMP estimated there were more than 50,000 open residential foreclosure actions in Wisconsin.  Each foreclosure that’s avoided is estimated to save local communities and stakeholders roughly $40,000, leading to an estimated $2 billion or more impact to the state.

 

The MMFMP, which began in July of 2009, has previously received more than $500,000 in Department of Justice funding from the Countrywide Financial Corporation lawsuit, as well as funds from the City of Milwaukee.  Since inception, it has helped more than 3,000 families.  On average, just under 50% of all mediated cases resolve the foreclosure with a loan modification, giving homeowners a fresh start and lenders a performing loan.  When home retention is not a viable option, the programs provide resources and facilitate transitional options so borrowers have a dignified exit and a soft landing.  A survey, which included both lender’s counsel and homeowners, found that 98% of program participants would recommend the program to others in foreclosure.