Thousands of homeowners in Sussex County still face the stress of foreclosure, but a new, mandatory program could help.
State law requires all Delaware residents facing foreclosure to take part in the mandatory Delaware Foreclosure Mediation Program administered by the Delaware Attorney General’s Office.
“Families are breaking up because of financial issues,” said Gerry Kelly, as he spoke at the Jan. 31 Sussex County Council meeting. “We are trying to calm families down, keep the temperature down, and let them know that free help is available.”
Kelly, a former Wilmington councilman and bank loan officer, is head of the Attorney General’s Foreclosure Prevention Office, which is part of the Consumer Protection Unit.
Kelly spends most of every day on the phone speaking with people in or facing foreclosure, and it’s a long list. In Sussex Count alone, there were 609 sheriff’s sales in 2011, compared to 397 in 2010 and 293 in 2009. There were nearly 1,200 foreclosure filings in 2011 in Sussex County, with more than 4,000 in Delaware. In all, more than 19,000 homeowners in Delaware have loans with past-due payments; about a third are in foreclosure.
The program, which started Jan. 19, offers owners of single-family homes a chance to meet face-to-face with their lenders to discuss alternatives to foreclosure. In a last-minute effort to beat the mediation deadline, 92 foreclosure complaints were filed in Sussex County from Jan. 1 to 18, with 38 of those filed the day before the Jan. 19 deadline.