Resources / Study / Innovation for Court ADR

Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

Posts Tagged ‘outreach’

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…)

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…)

Authorities Crack Down on Foreclosure Rescue Scams with “Operation Mis-Modification”

Shawn Davis, July 30th, 2014

Recently, the foreclosure mediation team at RSI has been thinking a lot about foreclosure scams and mortgage modification fraud. Now that we’ve launched foreclosure mediation programs in Lake, Kane and Winnebago Counties here in Illinois, we’ve been focusing on how to provide quality housing counseling and mediation services and get the word out to the public that these services exist. The problem is, it can be difficult to get our message out about the free, high-quality, court-sponsored programs we offer when homeowners in foreclosure are often bombarded with offers for foreclosure help from less than reputable sources. Foreclosure scammers are often very savvy about how to target vulnerable populations, making it difficult for the average homeowner to distinguish these offers from legitimate, government-sponsored programs. As the RSI foreclosure mediation team works with homeowners and conducts outreach, we have seen the devastating effects of these scams first-hand. We are working with the courts to provide better information to homeowners in the form of websites and brochures that offer resources about what to look out for and how to report incidents of fraud.

Last Wednesday there was an exciting development in the effort to crack down on foreclosure scams, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 15 states, including Illinois, suing alleged mortgage foreclosure scammers in what is being called “Operation Mis-Modification.” (more…)

Part 2 of 3: Foreclosure Mediation Best Practices

Heather Scheiwe Kulp, March 7th, 2012

PRE-MEDIATION SESSION ELEMENTS

Conduct Extensive, Personalized Outreach to Borrowers

Outreach to borrowers is key to getting participation in the program. Most people do not open their mail or answer the phone when they are in foreclosure. For those that do, legal notices should be written in simple language with a clear instruction for what borrowers should do next. Programs should find ways other than mail to help borrowers access mediation programs.

One jurisdiction has dedicated funds for (more…)

Foreclosure Mediation, Saving Homes, and Appropriate Dispute Resolution

Heather Scheiwe Kulp, February 23rd, 2012

As someone who reports on foreclosure mediation around the country, I am thankful for the work of the Department of Justice and the National Consumer Law Center, which have both published extensive reports on the benefits of foreclosure mediation in recent weeks. The DOJ’s report is a follow-up on an Access to Justice Initiative conference RSI attended last year, which focused on how foreclosure mediation programs can be evaluated for their effectiveness. The NCLC report is the work of Geoff Walsh, a consumer lawyer who focuses on the foreclosure crisis and how consumers benefit from mediation programs that address foreclosures and provide a mechanism for servicer accountability. Walsh also helpfully demonstrates (on pages 33-41) how foreclosure mediation does not have to cost states too much and does not have to extend the foreclosure timeline.

While I agree with most of the assessment these reports provide, I’d like to highlight a couple of points – based on RSI’s experience and expertise in the court ADR field – with which I disagree.  (more…)