Program now available to distressed homeowners
With Senate Bill 1552 taking effect tomorrow, homeowners threatened
with foreclosure now have the right to meet with their mortgage servicer
face-to-face in mediation before final foreclosure decisions are made.
The new law also addresses a common complaint known as "dual-tracking."
Mortgage servicers will no longer be permitted to foreclose while
negotiations are ongoing for loan modifications or other foreclosure
"This important piece of legislation will hold loan servicers
accountable and ensure that Oregonians have every opportunity to stay in
their homes," said Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum. "Delivering
meaningful foreclosure assistance was one of the key accomplishments of
the 2012 Session and we are eager to begin helping more Oregon families
keep a roof over their head."
Beginning on July 11, homeowners who receive a notice of default will
receive information on free foreclosure counseling and low-cost
mediation services. Mediation services will be provided to homeowners at
a subsidized rate of no more than $200. Funding for the program comes
from mortgage servicers and from funds allocated by the Legislature from
a national settlement with five large banks. Homeowners who are at-risk
of foreclosure, but not in default, can also schedule mediation. During
mediation sessions homeowners will be able to explore alternatives to
foreclosure including loan modifications, refinancing, short sales and
"By sitting down with their servicer, and a neutral mediator we're
ensuring homeowners will be well informed, and that they will be heard
by banks," said Representative Betty Komp. "We've passed a landmark bill
that will give Oregon homeowners an important tool to help them remain
in their homes. I'm excited that today middle class families and at-risk
seniors can begin accessing this program."
To implement this statewide mediation program, the Department of
Justice convened a 15-member work group to develop program rules. The
Department of Justice contracted with a mediation service provider,
Collins Center for Public Policy http://collinscenter.org to manage the mediation program.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum praised the group's efforts. "A
tremendous amount of work has been done by community advocates, mortgage
servicers and state agencies to get this important program ready on
time, and within budget. We're glad that this new tool is available to
homeowners and hope the program helps to turn around the foreclosure
crisis that has held our state in such a tight grip for the last few
The Department of Justice coordinated efforts with other state
agencies, including Oregon Housing and Community Services. OHCS is
leading the effort to ensure that trained housing counselors are
available statewide to work with homeowners before and during mediation
sessions. OHCS Director Margaret Van Vliet said, "Our agency is hard at
work with nonprofit organizations across the state developing innovative
ways for homeowners to work with a counselor to prepare for mediation,
regardless of where they live. Counselors will serve all areas of the
state, and services will be provided as efficiently and effectively as
possible. We know that Oregonians will be counting on these services,
and are looking forward to having all of the new counselors on board."
Homeowners who want to participate in the mediation program should go to http://www.foreclosuremediationor.org/ or calling 855-658-6733.
Homeowners can find a HUD Certified counselor and learn more about foreclosure prevention by visiting www.foreclosurehelp.oregon.gov or calling 1-800-SAFENET (1-800-723-3638).
Oregon Department of Justice:
Oregon Housing and Community Services: Ben Pray,