A foreclosure mediation program that began in St. Clair County in January 2014 has become mandatory for owner-occupied residential foreclosure cases.

According to a press release announcing the program became mandatory on Aug. 17, more than 360 St. Clair County homeowners have so far participated with 40 percent reaching successful agreements, 35 percent retaining their homes and 5 percent having been assisted in a “dignified exit option.”

Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson said the program has been “great” for the community.

“Now the newly added mandatory aspect of the program brings banks and homeowners to the table in a more expedited fashion,” he said.

When the program launched, St. Clair County Circuit Court partnered with the Dispute Resolution Institute, an Illinois non-profit organization, to provide defendant-homeowners with staff to assist homeowners through the process.

Missy Greathouse, executive director of Dispute Resolution Institute, said participants get individualized attention to help them through “this stressful process,” hopefully to reach agreements when possible.

When the program was optional, participants had to request mediation. Now that it’s mandatory, defendant homeowners should receive notice of the initial intake conference date with the complaint. At the initial intake conference, homeowners will receive information about the foreclosure process and possible options for homeowners in foreclosure. If a homeowner does not appear, the case will return to court. 

Foreclosure cases that are currently in court can be directed into the mediation program if a judge orders mediation, but a request must come from the homeowner.

Not all cases will be eligible for the program, according to the release.

This mediation program has so far been funded through a state grant supported with funds from a national foreclosure settlement. Beginning May 2018, the mandatory program will be funded through a foreclosure filing fee fund.

For more information, contact the Dispute Resolution Institute at (618) 549-1500.

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