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As Congress Dithers, ACORN Urges Action on Ideas That Work

With the Senate not exactly in a rush to pass a mortgage cramdown bill, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) is out with a report that cites a highly successful foreclosure prevention program that could be replicated elsewhere, with enough government support.

Since banks apparently call the shots in Capitol Hill, it’s refreshing to hear that someone is serious about trying to tackle the housing crisis.

ACORN points to a Philadelphia foreclosure mediation program that TWI has written about previously. It requires borrowers and servicers to sit down together before a foreclosure takes place, to see if both sides can work something out as an alternative to giving a home back to the bank. And in many cases, it works. That’s all the more reason why the Obama administration should put more federal resources into pre-foreclosure mediation efforts nationwide, based on the Philadelphia model, according to ACORN’s report.

Philadelphia has pioneered an innovative and remarkably effective foreclosure prevention program that requires lenders to sit down with borrowers and negotiate a mutually agreeable solution whenever possible. Approaching the one-year mark of the program’s initiation, more than three out of four homeowners who have entered the program remain in their homes today, where in other jurisdictions they would have lost their homes. The Philadelphia program is so effective because it is mandatory, uses very effective community outreach, is easy for homeowners to participate in, and utilizes the expertise of housing counselors. Other mediation programs we investigated are less effective for lacking some of these characteristics.

Our review of monthly foreclosure statistics in 30 counties across the country and all 50 states shows that the foreclosure crisis continues to pose a serious threat to homeowners, communities, and the economy. Implementation of a mandatory mediation program as effective as Philadelphia’s will save these communities untold tragedies and significant economic losses. **The federal government should invest in these successful local programs to complement the Administration’s efforts. **[Emphasis added.]

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