Lawyers Stepping Up to Help Families Keep Their Homes

You may have noticed that a couple of recent posts below reference the home foreclosure crisis.  With the growing number of foreclosures in South Carolina and across the United States it is no wonder the housing market is such a hot topic. 

One of the links referenced below is a story from NPR: Lawyers Make Pro Bono Leap into Foreclosures.  It is the story of a man named Mirkab.  Mirkab is a hard working man who ended up with two homes because just as his family purchased a new home and attempted to sell their old home, the market began to crash and they were unable to sell their second home.  Like many other hardworking Americans, Mirkab is trying as hard as he can to keep his finances in good standing, but battling with the mortgage lenders on his own was getting him nowhere.  The story highlights the generosity of lawyers who have responded to the mortgage crisis by doing pro bono work for clients like Mirkab.  With so many families in the same position as Mirkab’s family, we need even more lawyers to step up and take these cases.

According to the National League of Cities 1 in every 374 housing units were part of a foreclosure filing in April 2009.  Due to this insurmountable number, pro bono lawyers willing to tackle the mortgage crisis are desperately needed.  For attorneys who do not specialize in this area of law the learning curve is steep, so a number of organizations across the country are finding ways to make it easier for attorneys to step up and take on these cases.   At probono.net there are resources for attorneys interested in these pro bono cases including templates for legal documents and links to state specific resources.  The Pro Bono Institute reports that legal service programs are typically the only access to the legal system that the poor and those of modest means have.  Foreclosure cases are swamping their work load and pro bono help is needed to share the responsibility.

The Center for Responsible Lending created the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance that awards grants to non-profits and legal aid offices that with adequate resources can help those suffering from the housing crisis.  The grants range from 250,000 to 300,000 and are dispersed over a 3 year period.

The housing crisis hits close to home for many South Carolinians.  The Post and Courier in Charleston, SC ran an article in February telling how Family Services, Inc. was awarded $1.7 million from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Council.  Recipients of the monies included Appleseed, South Carolina Legal Services and Charleston Pro Bono Services.  These programs and this type of funding certainly help to put a dent in the aid needed, but there is much more required if individuals are going to get the legal help they need.

As Robin posted below, the South Carolina Supreme Court lifted the TRO on foreclosures as of Friday.  The Order lifting the TRO  lays out specific steps that must be followed and items that must be included within the court documents to determine whether an individual mortgage qualifies for President Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program.  The need for attorneys who are knowledgeable about the recent legislation and court orders dealing with the mortgage crisis as well as South Carolina Foreclosure law to take on these pro bono cases is great.  Thank you for all of those working so hard to work within the legal system to find solutions for those struggling with a home foreclosure.

-Allie

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Friday Wrap-Up 5.22.09

Here’s a Wrap-up of the week ending 5.22.09

I know this is mostly pointing folks to other sources for news, but as you can see, there are simply too many stories from the week to cover.

Thanks to my new law clerk Allie! She’s already jumping in with both feet.

Enjoy the stories below and have a safe holiday weekend!

Honolulu – City Awards almost $4 million for Homeless Services

LSC – Update enewsletter

South Carolina – SC Statehouse Report

New Brunswick – New Brunswick is facing Legal Aid cuts

Minneapolis – Best & Flanagan wins Pro Patria Award

Memphis – TBA President ready with plans

Washington D.C. – Bread for the City Beyond Bread: The Human Rights Clinic

Texas – Texas Access to Justice Foundation 25th Anniversary (thanks State Bar of Texas Blog)

Australia

Homeless Person’s Legal Service Forum (Robert McClelland)

Pro Bono Initiative to Strengthen Rule of Law (Robert McClelland) – Lawyers Beyond Borders

The Legal Intelligencer/Law.com – Use ‘Pro Bono Networking’ to Market Yourself into a New Job

New Jersey – TRENTON: State courts closed Fridayand again in June

JD Supra: Legal Articles – The 4 Ps of the Internet: Personal, Private, Professional and Public

Michigan

Mental health court serves public interest

The South End – Law School fellowships provide students with work opportunities, tuition dollars

California – New California Law School Unveils its First Clinic

InHouse Insider – 2009 Best Legal Department: And the Winner is . . . (be sure to track all 3 “winners”)

Tolerance.org: Teaching Tolerance – Use This Summer for Social Justice

NPR: Lawyers Make Pro Bono Leap into Foreclosures (thanks to Mercy Politics for pointing us to this story)

-RFW

South Carolina Temporarily Suspends Foreclosures on Govt. Mortgages

HOPE FOR SOUTH CAROLINA HOMEOWNERS ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN PRESIDENT OBAMA’S GOVERNMENT FORECLOSURE PROGRAM

home-sweet-home

On May 4, 2009, South Carolina became the first state  in which the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an Ex Parte Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)preventing the foreclosure sale of any property arising out of a loan owned or guaranteed by petitioner or Freddie Mac or held by a servicer who has signed an agreement to participate in the Home Affordable Modification Program aka HMP.

New details on the HMP were released on April 28, 2009.

If you think you may be eligible for the HMP, act quickly.

Kudos South Carolina! And good luck to the many homeowners who may have one more chance to keep their homes.

-RFW

C-SPAN Video Renters and Foreclosures

C-SPAN offers much of its information online. There is a wealth of information online, if you have a place to start. And now you do, at C-SPAN.

For the video on Renters and Foreclosures from February 20th, click here to view.

For information about America and the Courts, click here.

For their video library, click here.

-RFW

South Carolina sighs “Sometimes it’s good to be outside the top 10” – Foreclosure News

It’s usually a good thing to be a leader.  But every now and then, it pays off to be in the middle of the pack. This is one of those times for South Carolina.

South Carolina is NOT a Top 10 Leading State in Foreclosures!*

Who leads the nation in foreclosures?

California leads, followed by Florida, Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Texas, Virginia.

Although South Carolina does not lead the nation, our state courts are receiving record filings in the foreclosure arena; many by self-represented litigants.  Many legal and social service providers continue to work with people to save their homes.

Trend information is available online at the RealtyTrac where they track foreclosure information. You can access blogs and other information about foreclosures at this site.

-RFW

For information on a foreclosure ticker, check out my previous post. For a different website with an interactive foreclosure map, visit here.

* According to http://www.realtytrac.com/TrendCenter/Default.aspx?address=.

Foreclosures: Family Services Wins Grant to Help in the Fight

Family Services, Inc. receives $1.7 million from federal program

Wednesday, the Post and Courier reported that Family Services, Inc. received a $1.7 million grant to assist with the exponential increases in foreclosures within the state of South Carolina.

According to the Post and Courier article, the grant will “link attorneys with homeowners who contend they were victims of a variety of transaction wrongs, ranging from predatory lending to receiving a loan they didn’t sign up for. Also eligible are homeowners who find themselves in a bad way for other reasons, such as suffering from their own poor money management choices or facing adjustable rate increases. Thousands of people in South Carolina are eligible.”

This is good news for many homeowners, also assisting are South Carolina Legal Services, Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services and South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

-RFW