Chief Judge Judy Brawka is reviving a plan to create a new foreclosure mediation process in Kane County.
The idea was first proposed in 2010, but stalled as the Illinois Supreme Court worked to create rules for such a mediation program.
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Brawka named foreclosure mediation as one of her top priorities when she was recently sworn in as the new chief judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit.
She pledged to convert an entire courtroom into a spot for the new mediation program. Foreclosure case filing fees will increase by a yet-to-be-named amount to fund the mediation. Ultimately all the costs of the mediation are transferred to the borrower, Brawka said. The program would work by forcing lenders to meet with homeowners and try to work out an agreement that avoids foreclosure before putting the sale process in motion.
Foreclosure numbers continue to rise in Kane County. There were 1,627 sales scheduled between July and November. And 2,115 foreclosed properties are scheduled for sheriff's sales between Dec. 27 and May 30. Brawka said there are signs the housing market is recovering, but the current caseload will be in Kane County courts for the next five years before they are all concluded.
Brawka estimated about six weeks before work begins on the courtroom conversion for the foreclosure mediation program. Until then, anyone in need of foreclosure assistance can get it at the mortgage foreclosure help desk outside Courtroom 150 at the Geneva courthouse. Attorneys staff the help desk most mornings.
Foreclosures have been a dark source of income for the county since the housing bubble burst. The Kane County Sheriff's Office raked in $1.1 million from the foreclosures it processed in 2009, the last year the figures were publicly discussed.