Diversion-Programme stops the foreclosure clock for a time allowing the borrowers to breathe. During the last twelve months forty house owners of Somerset County managed to keep their homes from foreclosure thanks to a diversion-programme. Since last April it has been running in the county with the help of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services. It benefits both parties – the borrowers and the lenders.
Since the programme kicked off there were 136 foreclosure related complaints posted in the office of the prothonotary. Forty two house owners availed of this programme. Two of them could not halt the process and lost their houses in foreclosure auction. Of the balance ninety four that did not take part in this programme, 16 houses were sent up for auction during this period.
Robert Brenner of the legal services (executive director) commenting on the general success of the programme said it was “tremendous”. In the counties of Washington, Fayette and Somerset the legal services help those in the low income category. The diversion-programme however is available to any house owner whose residential property under mortgage is facing foreclosure. The income factor is not taken into account. All that the troubled borrowers have to do is to contact legal services and inform them that they want to participate in the programme. Brenner said, “The foreclosure diversion programme benefits go beyond the family involved in the process”. He said that it helped the community and added, “It is really important not to have this terrible plight of foreclosure going on in Pennsylvania and across the country”.
When legal services submitted the proposal of the Programme to President Judge John M. Cascio, the latter took it up immediately. Cascio said that it has been successful to some extent – at least in bringing together the two parties to talks so as to find alternatives to foreclosure. The programme halts the foreclosure process by adding another sixty days to the homeowners. The programme also gives counseling and if the borrower is eligible it also provides financial help through grant funds of the federal and state governments. The money is used to meet the mortgage commitments for the interim period.
County Judge David C. Klementik said that courts are expected to be impartial but the ground reality is that many foreclosures take place because of lack of communication between the two parties.
The diversion-programmes are not of one type but are many.