In Pennsylvania, and more specifically, Blair County’s Hollidaysburg, the number of mortgage foreclosures is increasing to a point where a much needed Mortgage Court is finally being introduced to residents, in effort to save homes. This Mortgage Court will work closely with the Blair County Community Action Agency, which has been assisting residents receive financial aid via the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
An order to produce a process, whereby residents are allotted more time to go through the mortgage foreclosure while looking for ways to save their home, was given by President Judge, Jolene G. Kopriva. However, the President Judge’s Law Clerk said recently in lieu of the order, not all foreclosures/homes will be saved; as well, it “may not be economically feasible to save it.”
The focus of the program is to obtain and structure a new mortgage which is affordable and realistic based upon the homeowners’ financial situations. The state program also offers its members financial management counseling to help give a sense of control and responsibility to residents.
There have, lately, been literally hundreds of mortgage foreclosure filings with the Blair County Courthouse. President Judge Kopriva said recently, in explaining the need for the new program, “the number of mortgage foreclosure actions filed in Blair County has recently expanded greatly.”
Within nearly two years (four months away from the official two year mark), approximately 560 mortgage foreclosures have been filed. Lenders have filed 430 foreclosures, last year alone. The program applies only to “owner-occupied homes.”
Homeowners have a 10-day window to determine if they wish to join the program and if they do; their home will be saved foreclosure proceedings for up to 60 days. After the 60 day period, the owner and lender(s) go to hearing where Judge Kopriva determines the next step. Should no agreement be found, the mortgage foreclosure is then put back in a civil docket for a disposition.
It’s been projected the first session of Mortgage Court will occur in roughly two months. Sessions and hearings will be held simultaneous to Blair County’s Credit Card Court’s sessions. Credit Card Court was established over two years ago and has proven helpful in providing aid to credit card lawsuits.
Mortgage Court and the program with which is coincides, will greatly benefit those owners who require more time in facing foreclosure. As the rate of foreclosures rise, the proceedings and loss of homes has become swift and relentless. More often than not, homeowners have lost their jobs and have yet to work on a plan to avoid foreclosure.
Perhaps Blair County’s Mortgage Court and the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program will be adopted by other states, namely, the ones in dire need for an assistance program which actually focuses on its residents/owners and works closely with them in avoiding foreclosure. As long as the process continues to bare inadequacies, programs like these will continue to be welcomed.