October 24, 2014

Foreclosure mediation to expand statewide

An effort at foreclosure mediation in Milwaukee is expanding statewide. Debra Tuttle is executive director of the Metro Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program, which has had some success keeping people in their homes since its beginnings in 2009. “Of the cases that go to mediation, approximately half of them work out in some type of retention option,” she said. “The servicers end up with a performing loan and the foreclosure action is dismissed.”

Now the program is being expanded, and is looking for attorneys and experienced mediators to serve as volunteer mediators. “Mediators shepherd the communications between the parties,” said Tuttle. “We’re asking for volunteers to commit to a minimum of one-half day per month. But what we find is, once someone has begun working in our program, they typically volunteer much more.”

Funding for the Wisconsin Foreclosure Mediation Network is provided by the state Department of Justice, through a state and federal settlement reached with the nation’s five largest mortgage lenders earlier this year. This Network will assist other counties with starting foreclosure mediation programs, with regional centers in Wausau, La Crosse, Hudson/Eau Claire, Oshkosh and Green Bay. The program also will network existing programs around the state, and provide those programs with resources and support.

The training program will take place in Wausau, November 29-30, and the deadline to apply for the volunteer positions is November 24th. “I can’t think of a more gratifying experience than helping someone save their home from foreclosure,” said Tuttle.