Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is awarding $5 million from the national foreclosure settlement to fund mediation programs throughout Illinois. Madigan explained, “mediation has been proven to give homeowners a greater chance to save their homes.” This, however, begs the question: where’s the proof? In her announcement, Attorney General Madigan did not identify the basis for her claim that these programs are working. In fact, evidence from around the country is to the contrary. Last year, the Florida Supreme Court ended its foreclosure mediation after spending tens of millions of dollars on the program only to yield a paltry 3.6% success rate. Similarly, New Hampshire ended its mediation program after lackluster results. Illinois’s program may be working, but we will not know that until Attorney General Madigan shares her proof. Antidotal evidence suggests that Illinois’s foreclosure program primarily serves to the delay the foreclosure process in Illinois, which is already one of the longest in the nation.
The $5 million funding will be used to implement three regional projects to start foreclosure mediation programs in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, and 21st judicial circuits. The law schools for the Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois, as well as the Dispute Resolution Institute, will develop and administer the three regional projects by working with judges to develop rules, recruit and train mediators, develop an online monitoring system, and evaluate the success and efficiency of the programs. Hopefully these results will be reported.