In Your Corner: Foreclosure Program Saves Homes

By Ryan Elijah

May 27, 2011 Updated May 27, 2011 at 8:36 AM EDT

The housing market is still recovering from the mortgage meltdown and Allen County is no exception. 2028 families lost their homes in 2009 and last year the number increased to 2134. So far, 2011 is showing slight improvement with 556 foreclosures through April and a local program is leading the way.

"those that stay with the program all the way to its conclusion, we have a success rate of 80%, that is they get to stay in their home",said Allen County Superior Court Judge Nancy Boyer.

Judge Boyer is leading an Indiana State program requiring homeowners to receive a notice informing them of their right to a settlement conference in their foreclosure. In the first year only 2% of homeowners responded, so the Indiana Supreme Court allowed Boyer to experiment and the result was sending a separate notice that didn't get buried in foreclosure papers.

The response rate is now 34% and more importantly 82 percent of those that stick with the program stay in their home.

"it's a win, win, win. A win for the lender, a win for the borrower, for the community and a win for the family", said Boyer.

Any borrower in Allen County and any mortgage amount is eligible. Of 1286 cases that qualified , 442 entered the program, a 34% response. Despite the fact that the program is free, her office still sees homeowners paying over $2000 to companies that promise consumers they'll fix their foreclosure and then don't deliver.

"if someone asks you for money to fix your situation, that's a red flag. This program is free", said Boyer.

Boyer has turned the companies over to Indiana's Attorney General's office.

We called the Florida Law law office of Thomas Sherwood and Legal Helpers about what help they offer for the price. Both agreed to look into the details of their cases, but only Legal Helpers called us back within 48 hours. According to Boyer's office, Legal Helpers took $2400 from a local family, Judge Boyer had to call an emergency hearing when the stunned homeowner found out his home was scheduled for sheriff's sale in 2 days. The homeowner said he had not heard from Legal Helpers for 3 months before receiving the notice. We found complaints around the country about both companies.

In July, new legislation takes effect In Indiana requiring all counties to send separate notices like Allen County. Attorney General Greg Zoeller has recognized Boyer and Allen County for the efforts to fully protect borrowers legal rights. If you don't receive a notice of your foreclosure rights you should contact your county courthouse.

Borrowers are required to gather financial information for the settlement conference, which often involves a meeting between the lender, borrower and court representative from Judge Boyer's office. Her office has added an extra phone line to field more calls from residents, but the program does not cost the county any extra money.
Allen County residents can call 449-3491 for more information on the program.

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