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Just Court ADR

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Posts Tagged ‘foreclosure mediation’

In Foreclosure Mediation, Make It Easy to Participate

Jennifer Shack, June 25th, 2015

When it comes to foreclosure mediation, how a program is designed has a large impact on eligible homeowners. That was the broad finding of the evaluation of six foreclosure mediation programs in Illinois I just completed. The evaluation assessed the first year of the programs funded by the Illinois Attorney General, using data from an online case management and program monitoring system that allowed all but one of the programs to collect the same data using uniform definitions for each data point. The six programs are located throughout the state:

  • The 6th Judicial Circuit (Champaign County only), serving a university town and a largely rural county in Central Illinois
  • The 16th Judicial Circuit (Kane County), serving a large suburban Chicago community
  • The 17th Judicial Circuit (Winnebago and Boone counties), serving Rockford, Illinois’ third largest city, in north-central Illinois
  • The 19th Judicial Circuit (Lake County), serving a large suburban Chicago community
  • The 20th Judicial Circuit (St. Clair County only), serving a suburban St. Louis community
  • The 21st Judicial Circuit (Kankakee County only), serving a semi-suburban community south of Chicago

Each of the programs is designed differently, from how homeowners enter the program to what services they receive when they do. Their differences, combined with the collection of the same data for each program, provided insight on the effect of program design on participation, home retention and homeowner experience.  The most interesting findings from these different models include the following:

Higher participation leads to higher impact

In the 21st Circuit, 68% of homeowners participate in the program, and 14% of all homeowners facing foreclosure in the program county were able to save their homes. The other programs have participation rates of 7% to 25% and between 2% and 6% of all eligible homeowners keep their homes. The 21st Circuit’s high rate of home retention for all eligible homeowners facing foreclosure relative to the other programs is due to its very high participation rate and not to proportionately better outcomes for homeowners who participate in the program. If only participating homeowners are considered, the 21st Circuit has the lowest percentage who keep their homes.

High barriers discourage participation

Programs whose required steps for participation are difficult for homeowners have the lowest participation rates. Those with the easiest steps have the highest participation rates.

One-on-one orientation and assistance with entry encourage participation

Programs that orient the homeowners to the program at their first point of contact have higher rates of homeowners who complete the entry process. In the 16th Circuit, almost 90% of homeowners who contact the program coordinator for an initial conference enter the program. In the 17th Circuit, homeowners receive assistance completing their application for the program, leading to a higher rate of participation than in the 20th Circuit, where many homeowners do not have contact with the program until after they complete the steps to enter.

Homeowners who receive services other than mediation are more likely to retain their homes

In the 20th Circuit, those homeowners who received assistance from legal services were more likely to retain their homes than those who did not. While not statistically significant, this was true as well for homeowners who received housing counseling in that program. In addition, in the 17th and 19th Circuits, where all homeowners receive assistance from housing counseling, the level of understanding they gained and their satisfaction with the service were extremely high.

Homeowners benefit from a second opportunity to participate

In the 20th Circuit, more than half of participating homeowners are referred to mediation by the judge at the default judgment hearing.  They also are at least as likely to obtain a loan modification as those who enter the program after receiving their notification of mediation. This means that homeowners who could get a loan modification are selecting themselves out of the mediation programs and should be given another opportunity to participate.

To explore the data further, read the Executive Summary or the full evaluation.

Bringing Court ADR Programs into the Courtroom

Kimberly Ackmann, May 8th, 2015

As the RSI foreclosure mediation team continues to incubate foreclosure mediation in Illinois, we have explored a variety of ways to reach out and connect with homeowners who could benefit from our programs’ services. One approach has been to establish our programs’ presence at the courthouses where homeowners are attempting to navigate the foreclosure process. Going to court can be an overwhelming or intimidating prospect for homeowners facing foreclosure. Providing information about available resources like the foreclosure mediation programs can be a great opportunity to connect with homeowners.

As the program coordinator for Illinois’ 17th Circuit’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, I began to explore whether increasing the program’s presence in the courtroom could increase our impact on the community. With this goal in mind, I recently started meeting potential parties at the Winnebago County Courthouse in Rockford. I go over to the courthouse during the foreclosure court call so that I can work directly with homeowners interested in participating in foreclosure mediation. Because I am waiting right outside the courtroom, the presiding judge can refer homeowners into the mediation program and send them directly to me for more information. I am also available to answer more general questions that homeowners or attorneys may have about the program and other area resources. In deciding to increase the presence of the foreclosure mediation program at the courthouse, I looked to other models around the state for ideas about how to proceed. Since instituting my own procedure, I’ve learned more about what can make these efforts most effective. For other programs looking to expand their court presence, here’s what I’ve learned. (more…)

RSI Turns 20!

Susan M. Yates, April 22nd, 2015

Can you believe RSI is twenty years old today? Back in 1995, no one could have predicted that what started as an idea – collect and disseminate reliable information about court ADR in Illinois – would become a nationally-recognized non-profit providing a full array of services in support of quality court ADR.

Indeed, RSI’s life as an independent non-profit is much shorter – not quite two years. We started life as part of Chicago’s Center for Conflict Resolution and spun off in July of 2013. These past two years have seen a dramatic expansion of RSI’s services. In addition to the court dispute system design, program monitoring and evaluation, and online resource center at CourtADR.org that have long been staples of RSI’s work, we are now administering court mediation programs and training mediators.

The motivations that undergirded the founding of RSI continue to steer our work. Chief among those ideas: sharing reliable information about court ADR among court ADR programs can elevate the quality and effectiveness of court ADR services. We are living out that idea with comprehensive monitoring of foreclosure mediation programs administered by RSI and by our program partners. By collecting reliable and accurate data, RSI is able to provide program evaluation that is improving the quality of foreclosure mediation throughout the state.

Want a way to celebrate? Go to RSI’s Razoo site and make a donation! We plan to be around for a lot of double decades to come, so how about some multiple of $20?

Connecticut Evaluates Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program

Shawn Davis, March 9th, 2015

In October 2014, the Connecticut Judicial Branch released an evaluation of its Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. The Connecticut study evaluates six years of foreclosure mediation program data, dating from the program’s inception in 2008. As RSI prepares the first evaluation of Illinois’ six foreclosure mediation incubation programs, the earliest of which began accepting cases in December 2013, it’s interesting to review Connecticut’s data and how the program has evolved over time.

Given Connecticut’s six year history with foreclosure mediation, the report is able to explore how homeowners who participate in the foreclosure mediation program have fared over time. This information is very valuable, since the long term sustainability of mortgage modifications, such as those offered through HAMP, have often been called into question. (more…)

Mediation Program Outreach: Reflecting on What Works

Shawn Davis, February 10th, 2015

RSI started running three foreclosure mediation programs in 2014, which means we’ve spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about how to make mediation services more accessible and increase program usage rates. Such issues can be a challenge and often require creativity, especially with limited resources. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Meet People Where They’re At

Reaching the homeowners who would personally benefit from our services is always a challenge. In an effort to spread the word about our foreclosure mediation program, we’ve attended countless city council meetings, real estate events, church events and even carnivals. While getting out into the community is really important for forging relationships with community leaders and getting press coverage about mediation services, it can be a difficult way to identify and connect with those we serve. The more that outreach efforts can directly target a pool of eligible program participants, the better. However, this kind of targeted outreach, such as going door-to-door to homeowners in foreclosure, can be extremely expensive and labor-intensive. The alternative, which we have found to be both effective and efficient, is to have homeowners referred directly into the mediation program when they come to court to appear for their foreclosure case.

(more…)