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Mediation available for foreclosures


   Under the new Senate Bill 1552, 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 avoidance measures.
   "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.
   As of July 11, homeowners who receive a notice of default began receiving 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 other options.
   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 to manage the mediation program.
   Homeowners who want to participate in the mediation program should go to http://www.foreclosuremediationor.org or call 855-658-6733.
   Homeowners can find a HUD Certified counselor and learn more about foreclosure prevention by visiting www.foreclosurehelp.oregon.gov or by calling 1-800-SAFENET (1-800-723-3638).