Bryan Cohen Sep. 19, 2013, 7:00pm

SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) -- Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Wednesday that the newly revamped Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Program is doing its job by helping struggling homeowners meet face-to-face with borrowers.

The program received 456 meeting requests since it was unveiled six weeks ago, with most of the requests coming from lenders who typically declined to participate in the program during its first year of operation. In the first 13 months of the program, private lenders sent 286 pending foreclosures through the program.

Rosenblum's office said the coming weeks could bring hundreds of additional cases to the new program.

"No one's happy about impending foreclosures, but we're delighted with these numbers because, unlike the earlier program, it means this one is working the way it's supposed to," the attorney general said in a statement.

"We worked hard to close the loophole that allowed banks to avoid face-to-face meetings with borrowers. We remain hopeful that getting lenders and borrowers together at the same table will help prevent foreclosures and keep Oregonians in their homes."

One key to the success of the program is Senate Bill 558, a bill that became law last spring that subjects judicial and non-judicial foreclosures to a meeting requirement. The bill closed a loophole that only required non-judicial foreclosures to have face-to-face meetings.

Homeowners have 25 days to respond to letters requesting the meeting. The homeowner must pay a fee ranging from $50 to $200 and provide some financial information to the lender. The lender provides payment history and a copy of loan documents to the homeowner.

"It's important that people interested in meeting with their lenders be proactive and respond in a timely manner," Rosenblum said.

While the housing market is showing signs of improvement in 2013, 4.85 percent of all homeowners in the state were 90 days or more delinquent on mortgages as of June, a level far higher than the historical average, according to the Attorney General's Office.

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