The community group, ACORN today asked the federal government to help fund a foreclosure diversion program in Allegheny County that is based on a Philadelphia program. The Philadelphia program set up mediation meetings where lenders, borrowers, lawyers and individual program workers could meet before a judge to create an affordable plan to help homeowners make their payments and remain in their home. In Philadelphia, ACORN says 78% of families who were at risk of foreclosure were able to stay in their homes. ACORN believes the program could save Allegheny County and the city up to $300 million dollars annually. However, there already is a program in Allegheny County intended to avert foreclosure.
In January, County Judge Joseph James,Sheriff William Mullen and County Executive Dan Onorato introduced the new plan under which homeowners who receive a complaint of foreclosure will also receive a pink form along with it. On that form will be a number for a hotline which runs out of the Department of Community Development. The homeowner must call the hotline within 20 days to set up free mortgage counseling with pro bono counselors. The homeowner then has 90 days to complete the counseling. Meanwhile, the program also requires lenders to designate someone to re-negotiate the mortgage, hopefully conciliating it before the scheduled foreclosure hearing. Onorato says the plan will not only help people, but will save taxpayers millions of dollars and prevent the spread of neighborhood blight, as well.