Published on The Huffingon Post 4/29/09
Organizers for ACORN held a press conference on the steps of the Osceola County Courthouse in Kissimmee, Florida on Tuesday, April 28 at 1:00 PM to introduce a mediation program designed to help homeowners under threat of foreclosure stay in their homes. ACORN members Anne Busby and Robert Benech, members of the Foreclosure Fighters Committee, both told of their experiences with Countrywide, their lender, and of their efforts to fend off their own foreclosures. The purpose of this press conference was to introduce a mandatory mortgage mediation program to Osceola County through Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Belvin Perry’s Administrative Order 2009-02. Here is the link: http://www.ninthcircuit.org/research/. Once on the link, type in the administrative order number and the judge’s name. The document is a six page PDF file outlining the mandatory process in Orange County.
According to ACORN Osceola County is part of the Ninth Circuit , however Judge Perry’s order has only been issued for Orange County. No action has taken place to implement the order in Osceola County. The judge responsible in Osceola County is Judge R. James Stroker. Acorn is attempting to meet with Judge Stroker but so far has not been successful. They are urging Judge Perry to extend his order to include Osceola.
In Orange County ACORN, with the help of US Congressman Alan Grayson and State Representative Scott Randolph convinced Judge Perry to initiate this order on February 25, 2009. Another purpose of the press conference was to introduce the issuance of its new report, Road to Recovery that tells of the success of the Philadelphia mandatory mediation program and is a handbook for similar actions throughout the country. The report is available on-line here: http://acorn.org/fileadmin/ACORN_Reports/2009/Road_to_Rescue_Report.pdf
The Philadelphia program has a success rate of 78% according to the report. Similar press conferences were held yesterday in Pittsburgh, PA; Cincinnati, OH; Hartford, CT; Bridgeport, CT; Prince Georges County, MD; and Schenectady, NY.
During a question and answer period it was acknowledged that Federal money was available through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and ACORN called on 15th District Congressman Bill Posey to get involved with the program
After the press conference, the event organizer, Meredith Adrion, answered several questions dealing with ACORN’s involvement in Bankruptcy legislation. “The failure of the congress to pass this bill will result in 100,000 families losing their homes in the State of Florida alone.” Adrion emphasized the importance of the mediation programs in the face of the congressional failure. Other things she emphasized were housing counseling, educational programs and community outreach. When questioned about ACORN’s overall activities she stated that Health Care Reform, Affordable Housing, Restoration of Rights for Convicted Felons, Citizenship Classes and Immigration Reform were all areas that ACORN is involved in as well as the foreclosure crisis.