By Steven G. MehtaSteve Mehta

With the housing crisis showing no immediate sign of relief, Congressman Alan Grayson from Orlando, Florida is trying to promote a national court-ordered mediation program that would require both sides in a home foreclosure process to mediate their dispute.

Grayson said a good solution to the foreclosure crisis would be to require mandatory mediation on both sides. “Give it 45 days to work,” he said. “It’s an unconventional solution to the problem that has worked.” The Florida courts have already instituted such a plan with success. Last year, Seminole County began a court-ordered mediation program. Other Florida courts have followed suit. In one situation, Judge Belvin Perry Jr., chief justice of the Ninth Judicial Court in Orange County, enlisted the support of mediators from a local Bar Association, who agreed to provide mediation services at reduced fees.

Grayson said “When a homeowner is at risk of foreclosure, it makes sense to bring lenders to the table and attempt to work out – in good faith – a deal that saves the mortgage for the lender, the home for the family, and the neighborhood value for the community,” Grayson wrote. “Many lenders, I am told, have been unresponsive, institutionally unequipped to work with homeowners to save these deals even when it makes financial sense for all parties to do so. Mandatory mediation for owner-occupied mortgage foreclosures would help to overcome these hurdles.”

The concept of mandatory mediation is no stranger to the California Court system. Indeed, Los Angeles Superior Court has long had a program of mandatory or quasi-mandatory mediation that has had tremendous success in resolving an enormous amount of cases and easing the burden on the judicial system.  Given the enormity of the potential housing crisis, if this initiative gains steam in the legislature, it would be important for mediators, judges, and legislators to provide information to Congress so that some of the lessons that have been discovered from court programs can be applied to foreclosure mediation program.
This article was based upon an article published in Florida’s The Ledger.com

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