Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Delaware Headlines

DOJ hosts foreclosure prevention workshops

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Foreclosure Prevention held two mortgage mediation events this week to help struggling homeowners keep their houses.

DOJ holds events like these twice a year to bring together homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages, HUD-approved housing counsellors and loan servicers.

Lisa Spellman, DOJ Mortgage Foreclosure Outreach Coordinator, says face-to-face contact between homeowners and their loan servicers makes a difference.

“One of the biggest challenges is when [homeowners] call the servicer to get help, they have multiple people they speak to, the person on the other end might not be caught up to what’s going on, and there’s a lot of frustration,” she said.

Spellman says at these events, loan servicers can modify mortgages on the spot, as long as homeowners bring the necessary information and qualify.

She adds that housing counsellors can help mediate or provide additional information.

“We have the HUD-approved housing counselling agencies there who are able to sit down and talk to the homeowners about what their options may be— if it’s not home retention, exiting gracefully,” said Spellman.

Despite the prevention efforts of Delaware’s Department of Justice and advocacy groups, Delaware has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

Spellman says many loan servicers are just now working through a backlog of cases from the recession— and are beginning to file legal action against loans that were defaulted on years ago.

Other advocates point to a continuing shortage of affordable housing, especially in Sussex County, and broader issues of poverty and unemployment.

Lillian Harrison leads housing counselling services for non-profit Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council (DCRAC). She says working with loan servicers to adjust mortgages and sometimes getting state assistance can help save people’s homes — but that at the end of the day, the deeper problem is income.

“We’re talking about foreclosure prevention, but we’re not always talking about the problem that created it,” said Harrison. “More income, I can save your house. No income, little income, I can’t save your house.”

Roughly thirty people came to each event this week. But Harrison says many more need the services.   


Related Content