Mortgage Foreclosure Diversionary Program
The Luzerne County Mortgage Foreclosure Diversionary Program is a collaborative effort between both the public and private sectors to address residential foreclosures in Luzerne County.
Initiated in August 2010, by Administrative Order of then President Judge Thomas F. Burke, Jr., formalized by a local rule in April 2017, the primary objective of the Mortgage Foreclosure Program is to provide a single unified process for the amicable resolution of mortgage foreclosure proceedings through court intervention, counseling, and conciliation. In addition to Judge Lesa S. Gelb of the 11th Judicial District of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, the Luzerne County Bar Association’s pro bono lawyers, and a nonprofit, counseling agency play substantive roles in this effort.
Eligibility for the Program
To be eligible for entry into the Program, the borrower in question must meet the following criteria:
- A Complaint for Mortgage Foreclosure has been filed with the Luzerne County Department of Court Records, Civil Division; and
- The property is owner-occupied.
Commercial properties are not eligible for the Program.
Participation in the Program
Participation in the Program cannot start until the lender files a mortgage foreclosure action against the borrower in civil court. At this time, the Sheriff’s Department will serve the borrower with the appropriate foreclosure paperwork. Included in this paperwork is an “Important Notice” advising the borrower of the Mortgage Foreclosure Program and advising that participation in the Program is initiated by contacting our housing counseling agency.
How the Program Works
The Borrower schedules an appointment with the following certified housing counseling agency:
Commission on Economic Opportunity
165 Amber Lane
P O Box 1127
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18703
Appointments are set up with this Agency. At the time of the appointment, a request for conciliation conference is filed with the Court. The Judge then prepares an order of court scheduling a conciliation conference and placing a hold on the foreclosure proceedings. The signed orders are filed with the Civil Division - Court Records. The order temporarily prevents the lender from being able to continue the foreclosure process. Copies of this order are mailed to all parties involved by the Department of Court Records. The counseling agency advises what documents of the borrower are necessary to be successful in this process. Until the scheduled hearing occurs, the housing counselors continue to work with the borrowers in an attempt to reach an agreement between the borrower and lender. At the time of the conference, one of the following will happen:
- Removal from the program
- Continuance for another conciliation hearing allowing enough time to reach an agreement between parties
- Resolution of the issue resulting in settlement and discontinuance of the foreclosure action.
Failing to Participate in the Program
Eligible borrowers who choose to not participate in this Program or fail to follow through with appointments with the counseling agency will be subject to the rules of civil procedure governing mortgage foreclosure actions.