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State Supreme Court OKs Madison County foreclosure mediation program

Madison County residents facing foreclosure will soon have another option that may help them keep their homes.

The Illinois Supreme Court has approved a move to establish a residential mortgage foreclosure mediation program in the county. Linda Jun, the administrator of the Madison County Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program, said the initiative should be ready to start helping homeowners within the next two months.

Jun said the program is designed to help homeowners who want to save their home and have the financial means to make a monthly mortgage payment. Those who face foreclosure will receive information about this program with their court papers. If they want to save their home, they must submit a request for mediation and meet certain financial eligibility requirements.

"They must have a certain amount of income to make payments," Jun said. "We haven't decided when this will get started. We're still working on those details."

Jun said she knows of similar programs in upstate in Cook and Will counties. She said the Madison County initiative is the result of meetings that began in October. The discussions involved lenders, homeowners' attorneys, real estate attorneys, mediators, and judges who wanted to explore mutually beneficial alternatives to foreclosure. Madison County Chief Circuit Judge Ann Callis will lead the new committee.

"This program shows what can be accomplished when all entities affected by the economic downturn come together to find a mutual solution," Callis said in a released statement.

Metro-east foreclosure rates have recently shown some decline. In March, metro-east foreclosure filings dropped compared to the same period a year and two years ago. After recording 167 foreclosure filings in March 2010 and 163 in March 2009, the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk's office reported just 109 last month. In Madison County, 104 foreclosures were filed, compared with 146 in March 2010 and 145 in March 2009.

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