Circuit Court of Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program Overview
The Circuit Court of Cook County announced on April 20, 2010 the launch of a court-based mediation program for foreclosure cases filed in Cook County in response to the increasingly rising foreclosure rate. Plaintiffs filing residential foreclosures after April 12, 2010 must notify homeowners in the summons about their option to pursue mediation. The program will provide free housing counseling and legal services to Cook County homeowners with the goal of resolving their cases quickly and avoiding foreclosure when possible.
The mediation program is structured to allow for a range of diverse outcomes from sustainable loan modifications to “graceful exits” such as:
- Deed-in-lieu transactions, where the homeowner voluntarily transfers the deed to the bank instead of foreclosure;
- Short-sales, where a bank allows a home to be sold for less than what is owed on the loan;
- Consent foreclosure agreements, where the homeowner will not contest the foreclosure, further preventing a deficiency judgment, or;
- Agreements for rental of the property, where the homeowner agrees to transfer their property to their lender in exchange for a rental lease.
In order to participate in the mediation program, homeowners must:
- be residents of Cook County
- have received a foreclosure summons from the Cook County Court
- live in the building in foreclosure – which may be a single-family home, single-family condominium or apartment building with four or fewer units.
Under the mediation program, eligible homeowners who have pending foreclosures in the Circuit Court of Cook County will be given an opportunity to meet with an on-site housing counselor and an on-site attorney free of charge. Housing counselors will assist homeowners who may be eligible for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) or a servicer-run loan modification while attorneys will assist homeowners in determining if they may have possible defenses to the foreclosure. Several geographically diverse HUD certified counseling agencies in Cook County have been selected to supply counselors to the program. These counselors will be both housed at the Court’s on-site space as well as at their respective agencies for follow up visits.
If the case is assigned to mediation, the mediation will follow the guidelines set forth in Circuit Court Rule 21 for Chancery Court Annexed Mediation.
The Circuit Court of Cook County has awarded four separate contracts to agencies that will be involved with administrating the program, including the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the Chicago Community Trust, the Chicago Bar Foundation and the public relations firm, Carolyn Grisko & Associates. IHDA has been selected to be the administrative agent for the housing counseling component of the program, while the Chicago Community Trust has been approved to be the administrative agent for the outreach component.
Currently, homeowners who have received a summons can call the toll-free help line at 877.895.2444 (or 312.836.5222 TDD) to schedule a free meeting with a housing counselor. For more information about the program, visit www.cookcountyforeclosurehelp.org.