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New foreclosure-prevention initiative announced

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To encourage more eligible Hoosiers to participate in settlement conferences when facing mortgage foreclosures, a new program involving the Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network was announced today in Fort Wayne.

Lt. Governor Becky Skillman announced the partnership that implements new procedures with the hope there will be more settlement conferences and more success stories, which could include the homeowner keeping the house, a short sale, or a deed transfer.

For instance, in Fort Wayne, Allen Superior Judge Nancy E. Boyer started a pilot program in February. Instead of only receiving a number of documents from the court that include information about how to participate in a settlement conference, a facilitator will call the homeowners to explain what they need to know and answer any questions they might have at that time.

A coordinator has been helping courts around the state to set up programs that vary by county, based on specific needs. Courts in other counties, including St. Joseph and Marion, have or soon will start similar programs in April, followed by Monroe County this summer. The program will add other counties in the next few months.

Last summer, the Supreme Court and Indiana Pro Bono Commission worked with plan administrators to train about 1,000 attorneys, mediators, and judges on how mortgage foreclosure settlement conferences work, but there has been a low participation rate among homeowners.

An in-depth article about the new program will be in the April 28-May 11, 2010, edition of Indiana Lawyer.

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