"Foreclosure" is hung on a For Sale sign in front of a townhouse in Herndon, Va.
"Foreclosure" is hung on a For Sale sign in front of a townhouse in Herndon, Va. - 
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Bill Radke: As Americans struggle to pay their mortgages, Congress is debating ways to help people keep their homes. In Pittsburgh today, Senator Arlen Specter holds a hearing on how a foreclosure prevention program in his state might serve as a model for the country. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler has more.

Jeff Tyler: Pennsylvania has been experimenting with mandatory mediation. Before a foreclosure can be enforced, the borrower and lender must go before a judge and attempt to work things out.

Senator Arlen Specter says the pilot programs help protect homeowners struggling with mortgages they can't afford:

Arlen Specter: Frequently, there's a misunderstanding. Sometimes there's misrepresentation or even fraud. And what happens on these mediation efforts is that they try to keep the people in their homes.

But Specter says many who qualify for the program are unaware of it. Same is true in New Jersey, where Kevin Wolfe oversees the office of foreclosure.

Kevin Wolfe: When your property gets listed for foreclosure, you get 50 letters a day from people saying that they're going to help you. The court's letter might just be considered another one of them. We have to somehow get through that clutter.

Senator Specter hopes today's hearing will cut through that clutter as foreclosures continue to rise.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace