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Helping Prevent Foreclosure

January 10, 2012
“If foreclosure mediation is such a good idea, why haven’t more jurisdictions taken up the mantle? What are barriers to implementation and program participation, and is the conventional wisdom that mediation takes a long time and is costly supported by the evidence?” These were some of the critical questions posed last spring by Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at a workshop hosted by the Access to Justice Initiative at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. in March of 2011. Today, Access to Justice is proud to release a report (PDF) detailing the important discussions that took place that day, compiling the most recent foreclosure mediation research and resources, and offering possible answers to these – and many other – key questions. In response to the ongoing foreclosure crisis, many jurisdictions around the country are turning to mediation, where a neutral third-party (often, but not necessarily employed by a court) helps facilitate negotiations between a lender and homeowner as they attempt to reach agreement on an alternative to foreclosure where such an outcome is feasible.    As detailed in the report, these programs already show great promise, and have even demonstrated some early successes – but the best way to move forward remains a subject of debate. In order to sustain the national dialogue about these issues Access to Justice brought together more than 40 foreclosure mediation program administrators, researchers, and other stakeholders for a workshop designed to achieve two goals:
  1. Shine a light on best practices for research and evaluation of foreclosure mediation programs (and related interventions); and
  2. Build and strengthen relationships between court administrators, researchers, advocates and representatives from government agencies and the lending community. 
The workshop also presented an opportunity to gather recommendations for potential actions that the federal government could take to support state and local foreclosure mediation programs. Both the workshop and today’s report build on a November 2010 event co-hosted by the Middle Class Task Force and Access to Justice Initiative at the White House. At the event, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder unveiled a series of steps designed to help middle class and low-income families secure their legal rights and announced new resources to help bring stakeholders together, share knowledge and expertise, and highlight the most effective new strategies for foreclosure mediation. Read the full report: http://justice.gov/atj/foreclosure-mediation.pdf Since its launch in 2010, Access to Justice has worked to help the justice system efficiently deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth and status.  The Initiative’s staff works within the Department of Justice, across federal agencies, and with state, local and tribal justice system stakeholders to increase access to counsel and legal assistance, and to improve the justice delivery systems that serve people who are unable to afford lawyers.  If you would like to learn more about the Access to Justice Initiative, visit www.justice.gov/atj.   

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Updated April 7, 2017