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Foreclosure Review Program Could Help Struggling Homeowners

An oft-criticized and critically maligned federal program could offer an independent review to millions of American homeowners currently facing foreclosure. The review process is designed to uncover flaws in a person’s foreclosure proceedings, and provide compensation ranging from $500 to a maximum of $125,000, depending on the type and extent of improprieties uncovered. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, the program is not operating as intended.

In spite of there having been more than 4 million notification letters sent to potential candidates since the program began in November 2011, less than five percent – about 200,000 – reviews have been requested. One of the most common complaints about the program is a lack of access by those most in need of assistance.

A recent Huffington Post article discussing the program interviewed a highly educated woman (about to receive her Master of Business Administration degree) who was unable to decipher the notification and eventually had to turn to a housing counselor to walk her through it. This begs the question whether the notification is perhaps written at too high a level for the average struggling American homeowner to understand.

A recent study performed by the federal Government Accountability Office, or GAO, confirmed that the boilerplate notification letters sent out to possibly eligible homeowners were indeed drafted with technical, “legalese” or lofty language that could discourage people from applying for help. It also found that the language of the form itself – currently only available in English – would make it especially difficult for homeowners who speak English as a second language or not at all.

There is hope, though. The federal government now realizes the difficulty of the barriers keeping possible applicants away from the help they may need, and changes are likely to the program. It has already been extended twice beyond its original April 2012 expiration date, and a public education campaign targeting Spanish speakers has begun. Furthermore, the government now has interpreters of more than 200 languages available to help educate those interested in the campaign and to help them navigate the process.

If you are behind on your mortgage or involved in a foreclosure proceeding, help is available. Chapter 13 bankruptcy may help you save your home and allow you to pay the mortgage arrears over a 60-month period. Call an experienced foreclosure attorney to learn about your legal rights and remedies.