To the editor:
I would like to clear up the misleading conclusions in your Tuesday editorial about the Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program, which was implemented by the 2009 Legislature to reduce the number of foreclosures in our state.
By way of background, I sponsored the legislation establishing the mediation program because Nevada, particularly Clark County, has the worst foreclosure rate in the nation. In January 2009 there were 5,800 default notices issued in Clark County; by June 2009 there were more than 10,000. This is seven times the national average. One in every 76 housing units is in foreclosure, which is up 137 percent from last year.
This foreclosure crisis affects not only those who are losing their homes, but all Nevadans. Home values in neighborhoods across the state have plummeted, with a devastating impact on our state economy.
Without creating another level of bureaucracy, the Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program provides an option to those who would like to modify their loan but cannot get in touch with anyone who has the authority to do so. Homeowners facing foreclosure now receive a mediation request form with their default notice; those who do not wish to go into mediation can simply decline the mediation request and the foreclosure will proceed.
If the Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program were a business, no one, especially this newspaper, would attempt to gauge its success because it only started last month. Even so, in this short time, 386 homeowners have already requested mediation. These hundreds of Nevadans will have mediations scheduled shortly. Fifty have already been set.
Your editorial also seems to indicate that since so many Nevadans are "underwater," all Nevadans should walk away from their homes and breach their contracts with their lenders. What an irresponsible suggestion. Many homeowners want to work out an agreement with their lender, but despite their efforts, can get no one on the phone to help them. Many could benefit if a loan modification were offered. Such a solution would make sense for both the borrower and the lender. That is why this program was created.
For those who cannot negotiate a loan modification in the mediation, it is anticipated that the parties may agree to a "short sale" or other means to resolve the matter without a foreclosure sale. If homeowners want to "walk away" from their loan, they will probably do just that and not participate in the program.
The Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program has nothing to do with market manipulation. It centers on finding ways to solve a crisis and keep families in their homes. Nevadans deserve that chance.
THE WRITER, A DEMOCRAT, IS SPEAKER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY AND REPRESENTS DISTRICT 8 IN CLARK COUNTY.