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The Philadelphia Courts’ are celebrating the third anniversary of their anti-foreclosure program. Over that time, a smaller percentage of homes ended up going to auction.

Philadelphia’s Foreclosure Diversion Program is designed to keep people facing foreclosure from losing their homes. A new independent study examined the program. Ira Goldstein of the neighborhood revitalization group “The Reinvestment Fund” says about a third of those enrolled work out a deal with their mortgage company.

“We found that roughly 85 percent of those with agreements remain in their homes remain in their homes 21 plus months after reaching agreements,” said Goldstein. “I think that’s a remarkable finding quite frankly. I didn’t think it would be quite so strong.”

Daniel Olmos, Senior Counsel of the “Access to Justice Initiative” at the U.S. Department of Justice, says the program has been copied across the country.

“Well structured diversion and mediation programs like the one here in Philadelphia can and do work,” said Olmos. “They can work for homeowners and their families. They can work for banks and servicers and they can work for courts and they can work for communities.”

Supporters say they hope a day will come when the program is not necessary.

Tom MacDonald | WHYY

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