Governor Martin O’Malley announced today that 35 housing counseling agencies and four legal service organizations have been awarded $1.9 million through the Maryland Housing Counseling Fund. Created under the Foreclosure Mediation Act of 2010, the newly established fund provides financial assistance to those agencies and organizations that offer housing and foreclosure counseling services. A press release from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development states,
The award of counseling funds is one of the many steps Maryland has taken to ramp-up infrastructure to support the new foreclosure mediation program. Over the last four months, counselors, attorneys, and administrative judges have been trained on the new law. Meeting rooms to host the mediations in central locations were identified and prepared. Consumer information was developed while outreach and marketing have been undertaken.
Homeowners are encouraged to see a housing counselor and contact their lender at the earliest sign of financial difficulty. The opportunity to participate in mediation occurs at a late stage in the foreclosure process and does not guarantee homeowners may avoid foreclosure.
Since the MDHOPE program began in 2007, Maryland’s housing counselors have helped more than 44,961 distressed homeowners, 13,405 of whom avoided foreclosure.
The Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond A. Skinner echoed the importance of foreclosure mediation,
“Our goal is to establish the necessary partnerships to help households throughout Maryland avoid foreclosure. These resources help provide dedicated financial resources to support the work of professional nonprofit housing counselors and legal services.
Maryland’s new mediation program is ready and the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings informs us that mediations are starting to be scheduled.”