This final evaluation of eight foreclosure mediation programs with very different service delivery models follows up the initial evaluation published in 2015. The programs were assessed on participation rate, the percentage of eligible and participating homeowners who were able to retain their homes, completion rates, the amount of time cases spent in the program, and the experience of participating homeowners at each stage of the process. Each program was evaluated individually and all eight were compared on these measures.
The findings from this evaluation supported those from the first evaluation. It, too, found that participation is greater in programs in which the homeowners are told to appear for their initial session and given a date and time to do so, as well as in programs in which the homeowners learn one-on-one how the program can help them. Homeowners with attorneys are more likely to complete the program, but they do not have a greater probability of saving their home. Homeowners also benefit from a second opportunity to participate. Among other findings are that the programs are providing a just process and are viewed positively by most participants.
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Access individual circuit evaluations below:
- 1st Judicial Circuit
- 6th Judicial Circuit (Champaign County)
- 6th Judicial Circuit (Macon County)
- 16th Judicial Circuit
- 17th Judicial Circuit
- 19th Judicial Circuit
- 20th Judicial Circuit
- 21st Judicial Circuit
Description of Study: Evaluation of eight foreclosure mediation programs of varying program designs, with a focus on outcomes as well as how program design affects those outcomes. The data was collected from January 2014 through December 2017.
Method: Collected court data regarding the number of filings and filed date. Collected program case management data regarding services provided to the homeowners, the timing of the services and the outcomes. Also collected demographic information on the homeowners. Used surveys to collect information on participant experience with the program.
Sample Size: Program sizes ranged from 77 through 282 participating cases per year, with a total of 4,766cases over the course of the evaluation.
Variables Examined: Settlement rate, satisfaction, fairness, time to permanency
Program Variables: The programs were funded via a grant from the Attorney General’s office as well as filing fees. They were evaluated from the date they started, with starting dates ranging from December 2013 through June 2017. Programs varied as to how they operated, and two substantially changed their process during the evaluation period. All provided homeowners with the opportunity to participate as soon as they received their summons. Four (later five) required that an initial conference be scheduled at or prior to the filing of the foreclosure; the other four (later three) required that the homeowner request entry into the program. Some provided housing counseling prior to mediation; some did not. Some included extensive assistance with document exchange; some did not. All provided for paid mediators to facilitate discussion once homeowners submitted their packet to their lender. However, some only facilitated discussion if home retention was not an option.
Findings: The eight programs helped 4,766 homeowners, representing 23% of all foreclosure filings in their jurisdictions. In the eight programs, 1,100 homeowners reached agreement that allowed them to keep their homes - 21% to 40% of homeowners who participated in the programs, depending on the program. Another 171 were able to avoid foreclosure while relinquishing their home.
More than 90% of homeowners who completed surveys said that they gained a better understanding of their options and how to work with their lenders. 99% of homeowners said felt that they were treated fairly and with respect. 84%-88% (depending on the program) felt that they were able to talk about the issues and concerns that were most important to them and 86% - 89% felt the mediator very much understood what was important to them. 90% were satisfied with their experience.
Cases moved through the process, from request to participate to return to court for dismissal or continued litigation, in 77 to 142 days, depending on the program.
The study also found that those programs that required the initial conference to be scheduled prior or at the time of filing had a higher impact, with a higher percentage of homeowners facing foreclosure being helped, and a higher percentage able to retain their home.