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Future Uncertain for Program That Helps Underwater Nevada Homeowners

PHOTO: As state lawmakers consider the future of the Foreclosure Mediation Program, housing numbers show that Nevada continues to be a foreclosure hot spot. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Labor.
PHOTO: As state lawmakers consider the future of the Foreclosure Mediation Program, housing numbers show that Nevada continues to be a foreclosure hot spot. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Labor.
May 26, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada lawmakers are considering extending the Foreclosure Mediation Program, which has helped thousands of people stay in their homes since the Silver State became ground zero of the housing crisis.

Kelly Werth is an attorney with Nevada Legal Services, which helps homeowners navigate the program. He says despite news reports of an economic recovery, Nevada continues to be a foreclosure hot spot.

"RealtyTrac determined that Nevada is still number two in U.S. foreclosure activity, at least in the month of April," Werth points out.

RealtyTrac reports that in April, about 2,100 homes in Nevada were in some form of foreclosure, reflecting a 6 percent increase over March, and a 39 percent jump from April of last year.

Werth stresses the program remains subject to approval in the Legislature, but says a legislative committee recently voted unanimously in favor of extending its funding for at least two more years.

He adds that the real value of the Foreclosure Mediation Program is that it brings all parties to the negotiating table.

"If the program were to go away, homeowners wouldn't have this avenue,” Werth says. “Basically, the homeowner would be on his or her own, trying to contact banks, trying to work out some kind of negotiation."

Nationally, RealtyTrac reports that foreclosures last month were up 3 percent over March, up 9 percent from a year ago, and are at an 18-month high.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV