Unfortunately, business is booming when it comes to foreclosure problems in Wisconsin. Fortunately, the Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation Program is succeeding at helping a growing number of those problems end with people keeping their homes and financial institutions satisfied with new arrangements.
Debra Tuttle, chief mediator for the program, said during a panel discussion at a conference Friday on foreclosure issues in Wisconsin that from July 22, when the program began, through November 4, there were 278 requests for mediation, more than double the number that was anticipated.
Twenty cases have gone through the mediation process, with all but one resulting in the owner keeping the house, she said. More than twenty others have ended with agreement between the owner and lender without the mediation process. And 136 are awaiting mediation.
Natalie C. Fleury, program coordinator for dispute resolution at the Law School, said a key to making mediation work was having everyone involved understand that that it is in their interest to work together to reach agreement. Lenders don’t actually want to take possession of homes and owners don’t want to give them up. “There are common interests here that mediation can help,” she said.
Cases are brought to the mediators through court referrals, and the mediators act as neutral parties. Marquette Law School is playing a central role in launching and staffing the mediation process.
The panel discussion was moderated by Daniel Idzikowski, the Law School’s Assistant Dean for Public Service. It was part of a conference at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, titled “Foreclosures in Wisconsin: Responses and Resources for Living Beyond the Bubble.” The sponsors included the Law School, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the City of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, the University of Wisconsin Extension, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.