The St. Louis County Council moved forward tonight with a bill that would require lenders to offer mediation for homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.
During a public meeting on the plan, many community members told the council that mediation may have saved them from foreclosure.
For Councilwoman Kathleen Kelly Burkett, it was personal. She was on the edge of tears when she told the story of foreclosing on her mother’s house.
Councilwoman Hazel Erby, who originally introduced the bill, said they have to take action now.
“We don’t have five years to wait five years for committees to come up with something," Erby said. "There’s been no solution up to this point, so, we need to move ahead."
Councilman Greg Quinn, however, voted against perfecting the bill and said it opens the door to litigation and unintended consequences.
Representatives for the lending and realty industry said if the bill ultimately becomes an ordinance, it could have a chilling effect on credit because it would set St. Louis County apart from the rest of the state.
“State law governs recorders offices, property conveyances, security agreements on real estate lending,” said Keith Thornburg, general counsel for the Missouri Bankers Association. “So, they’re just adding to or overriding state law requirements and that’s simply beyond what a charter county can do."
Thornburg stopped short of saying whether or not the Missouri Bankers Association would sue the county if the bill becomes an ordinance.
The bill would require banks to spend $500 for each mediation session.