Only 1% helped statewide in foreclosure mediation program

TAMPA – It was supposed to help clear the courts of foreclosures and help people keep their homes.

But the court-mandated foreclosure mediation program in Hillsborough County has only lead to four of 492 eligible cases being resolved during the program’s first four months.

It’s not simply that homeowners were uninterested.

Mediators complain of calling borrowers only to find they haven’t yet been served with the lawsuit. Often, by the time the homeowner gets the suit and decides to mediate with the lender, their case has already been transferred back to court, said Michael Bridenback, court administrator for the Hillsborough court.

“It’s not working as well as we all intended,” Bridenback said. “You really have to hold the lawyers’ feet to the fire.”

Hillsborough’s mediators aren’t the only ones running into trouble. The state’s foreclosure mediation program, required by the Florida Supreme Court, has produced such scant results that some question whether it’s a waste of time.

Statewide, there were 13,417 cases referred to mediation between March and June, according to a state report. Of those, 768, or 1 percent, resulted in the borrower and lender coming to an agreement. That could include a loan modification or a short sale.

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