On Friday, United States Vice President Joe Biden announced fresh support for foreclosure mediation programs.
The official plan flows from recent work of the Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Initiative, which focuses on increasing lower and middle class citizens’ ability to understand and effectively employ the law to protect their rights.
Since the project began in March 2010, the Initiative has explored foreclosure mediation as a possible solution to “leveling the playing field in high-stakes civil cases.” Friday’s Middle Class Task Force announcement secures mediation’s place as a public priority for ensuring that more citizens have improved access to justice.
Supporting foreclosure mediation nationwide is truly an interagency, bi-partisan effort. Government entities as varied as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) presented their portions of the plan in Friday’s press conference. A HUD and DOJ joint white paper describes some best practices in foreclosure mediation emerging from the sophomoric field. New FTC regulations prevent fraudulent foreclosure mitigation companies from playing on homeowners’ hopes for financial gain. HUD also committed more resources to training much-needed housing counselors and attorneys to represent homeowners in the mediations (though no mention of money for training mediators was made).
While the details of the program are forthcoming, Vice President Biden made one thing clear; mediation programs improve the community, the individual and the nation by providing access to justice for low and middle class citizens in conflict.