Department of Justice Access to Justice Initiative Issues Report to Assist Foreclosure Mediation Programs
The Access to Justice Initiative today released Foreclosure Mediation: Emerging Research and Evaluation Practices, a report resulting from a March 7, 2011, workshop with dozens of foreclosure mediation program stakeholders and researchers. Foreclosure mediation programs, in which a neutral third-party facilitates negotiations between a lender and homeowner in an attempt to reach an alternative to foreclosure or other mutually beneficial outcome, are increasingly being adopted across the country in response to the nation’s foreclosure crisis.
The report being released today summarizes the workshop proceedings and compiles the most recent foreclosure mediation research and resources.
“The loss of a home to foreclosure can be devastating to a family,” said Senior Counselor for Access to Justice Mark Childress. “The report released today compiles the best available research on foreclosure mediation programs and serves as an important resource for existing programs around the country as well as for jurisdictions attempting to establish foreclosure mediation programs. Well-structured foreclosure mediation programs may offer the millions of families at risk of foreclosure a way to stay in their homes.”
The March 2011 workshop at the Department of Justice and the newly-released report build upon a Nov. 19, 2010 event co-hosted by the Middle Class Task Force and the 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.
The March 2011 workshop was designed to achieve two goals in support of the development of mediation as a foreclosure intervention: (1) to illuminate best practices for research and evaluation of foreclosure mediation programs and related interventions, and (2) to build and strengthen relationships among program administrators, researchers, advocates and representatives from government agencies and the lending community.
Several key findings emerged from the workshop and are expanded upon in the report:
· In a tight budget climate, foreclosure mediation programs’ survival depends on rigorous research and evaluation to determine which program models and program characteristics produce the best outcomes.
· The creative collaborations represented in the workshop, such as those between programs and academic institutions, foundations, legal aid organizations, think tanks and government partners, can lead to efficient use of resources and quality evaluation.
· In order to conduct the kind of research and evaluation that is needed, there must be consensus regarding which data points and categories of data must be collected.
· The federal government should take an active role, both in helping to develop program and evaluation guidelines and in providing resources for mediation programs and research
The full report, Foreclosure Mediation: Emerging Research and Evaluation Practices, is available for download: http://justice.gov/atj/foreclosure-mediation.pdf
The Access to Justice Initiative, headed by Senior Counselor Mark Childress, was established in March 2010 to address the access to justice crisis in the criminal and civil justice system. The mission of the Access to Initiative is to help the justice system efficiently deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth and status. The Access to Justice 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.