HUD Provides Guidance re: Reporting by Victim Service Providers

An E-Alert via NLADA led me to the HUD’s online Guidance on HPRP Subgrantee Data Collection and Reporting for Victim Service Providers. This is important so as to preserve the integrity of the safety for victims of domestic violence.

 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) states that grantees receiving Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re‐Housing Program1 (HPRP) grants “shall collect data on the use of funds awarded and persons served with this assistance in HUD’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) or other comparable database.” (ARRA, p. 107) HPRP subgrantees (including organizations providing HPRP assistance under contract with a subgrantee) must also meet this requirement.

HUD has determined that HPRP subgrantees that are victim service providers as defined by the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109‐162) (VAWA) should NOT enter data directly in HMIS and must use a “comparable database.” VAWA defines a victim service provider as a nonprofit or nongovernmental organization including rape crisis centers, battered women’s shelters, domestic violence transitional housing programs, and other programs whose primary mission is to provide services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

-RFW

Follow-up: Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure

At the beginning of the month, guest blogger Lil Ann Gray, an attorney with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, wrote a post on the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. It has been an extremely popular and timely post for the SC Access to Justice Weblog.

Well, today I saw that  HUD had submitted guidance on June 18, 2009. Here is the link to their guidance.

Additionally, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs has been very proactive with their own guidance here. And, please take a few moments to check out their blog at http://consumer.thestateonline.com/. It has helpful tips for South Carolina consumers!

Thanks Lil Ann, the SC DCA, and HUD.

-RFW

And thanks to @eppink and @accesstojustice for pointing us toward this.

Don’t Get Hurled Away by a Hurricane!

Hurricane 09

Hurricane season is here! (June 1-November 30) 

A hurricane can have potentially long lasting and devastating effects if you are caught unprepared.  It is not difficult to take steps before a hurricane hits to protect you and your home, but dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane when you did not prepare can be a long painful process.  Don’t wait until a hurricane is on its way toward your home town; take the time now to secure the safety of you and your family so you are not caught off-guard by a hurricane this season.  In South Carolina, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division is a great place to start to prepare for a disaster.

Steps to take before a hurricane hits (FEMA):

  1. Secure your home with permanent storm shutters or plywood.
  2. Make sure your roof is securely fastened to the frame structure of your home.
  3. Trim trees and shrubs.
  4. Clean out rain gutters and downspouts.
  5. If you have a boat, secure it.
  6. Build or determine which room in your house is the most secure in case of an emergency.
  7. Make copies of your personal records including Social Security Card, Birth Certificate, Passport, etc.  Give the copies to relatives in another state or keep them stored electronically where they can be accessed from anywhere.

How to get help after a hurricane hits (National Disaster Legal Aid):

  1. A list of local organizations that can help can be found at www.lawhelp.org
  2. If you lose your ID, passport, Social Security card, or other important documents you can find out how to replace them at www.uslegalforms.com/life-documents.htm
  3. Sometimes homes are destroyed or inaccessible in the wake of a hurricane and families are not able to return home.  The US Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Public and Indian Housing and FEMA have programs that provide temporary housing.
  4. Families that are displaced due to hurricane might have problems finding employment.  The Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program gives assistance through unemployment benefits.  You cannot be eligible for these benefits if you already receive unemployment.  Visit their website for eligibility requirements.
  5. If you are displaced because of a hurricane then your children will need to find a temporary school to meet their education needs.  www.serve.org/nche/downloads/dis_hb/parents.pdf.
  6. Disaster food stamps assistance is available in the wake of a hurricane.
  7. Legal aid attorneys can help with landlord/tenant issues, contractor disputes, insurance issues and more.
  8. Other websites that can help in disaster preparedness:
    1. www.redcross.org
    2. www.abanet.org/disaster
    3. www.nilc.org/disaster_assistance/index.htm

-Allie

Guest Blogger: Lillia Ann Gray – Effective May 20, 2009

As you may or may not know, on May 20, federal provisions immediately went into effect that protect tenants living in foreclosed buildings. (The Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act is Title VII of Public Law 111-22).

These provisions are “self-executing,” which means that no federal agency (such as HUD) is responsible for implementing them.

This Public Law applies to all federally-related mortgage loan or on any dwelling or residential real property so this will apply to all State foreclosure cases.

The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) has prepared materials that will help key players understand the provisions and help tenants exercise their new rights under this law. NHLP’s materials include sample letters that tenants can use to inform their landlords, as well as sample letters advocates can use to inform the courts and public housing authorities. The NHLP materials are available on the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) homepage at http://www.nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=227

All tenants must get a 90 day notice prior to eviction due to foreclosure – at a minimum.

In addition (with some exceptions) tenants that have leases can continue to live in their homes until the end of the term of their lease, The rights of Section 8 tenants are also protected because the new owner at foreclosure must accept both the tenant’s lease and the housing assistance payment (HAP) contract.

For details of the new tenant protection provisions, in addition to the NHLP materials (http://www.nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=227) see an NLIHC memo on the homepage, http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Memo-Renter-Protections-S-896.pdf, and a May 22 Memo to Members article, http://www.nlihc.org/detail/article.cfm?article_id=6143.

 – Lillia Ann Gray

Ms. Gray is a Staff Attorney at the SC Department of Consumer Affairs.

PS For more News, see this article in the Charleston Post and Courier.

$44 million infusion to 20 counties to mitigate foreclosures!

The South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority (SCSHA) announced the $44,673,692 infusion to South Carolina via the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to help 20 counties with the highest foreclosure rates and targeted areas with high levels of subprime mortgages, mortgage defaults and delinquencies.

Greenville County received $2,262,856 and Richland County received $2,221,859 in separate allocations.

To review the HUD interactive map online, click here. According to the SCSHA, the NSP received allocations over $2 billion via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Thanks to the Columbia Regional Business Report for tipping SC Access to Justice about the story.

-RFW

Three Dog Night or Kool and the Gang?

Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music. OR. Celebrate good times, come on.

The nation is experiencing a financial meltdown. People are losing their jobs in record numbers. Legal Service organizations and normally stable law firms are experiencing reductions or freezes in their workforce, many for the first time ever. And soon we’ll whisk in a new year.

This is definitely not the time to celebrate, right? Wrong.

Wait, what?

It’s exactly the time for us to celebrate what so many of us ARE accomplishing. This is the time for us to rally behind each other and support one another.

Why?

Because the numbers don’t lie. Recently I asked South Carolina Legal Services whether the current crisis had any effect on the requests for service they had received. Here is what I received:

Comparison figures for applicants seeking SCLS services:

 

Jan. 1, 2007 – Dec. 15, 2007                Jan.1, 2008 – Dec. 15, 2008

Cases Accepted          7,281                       Cases Accepted          8,375 ( +1,094)

Cases Denied             3,395                         Cases Denied              3,249 ( -149)

TOTAL CASES             10,676                      TOTAL CASES             11,624 ( + 948)

 

  That’s almost a thousand more applicants coming through SCLS intake this year-to-date as compared to the same period last year.

 

There is also an increase in the consumer and employment cases SCLS closed this year:

 

2007 closed cases              2008 closed cases (12/15/08)        Difference

 Bankruptcy-275                         Bankruptcy-315                                       +40 cases

Collect’ n (incl Repo.)-265      Collect’n-277                                             +12 cases

Total Consumer-737                 Total Consumer-792                              +55 cases

 

Employment cases-117           Employment cases-273                        +156 cases

 

Housing-952                                 Housing -780                                            -172 cases

  

There’s even more difference in cases ACCEPTED:

 

2007 (Jan – Dec 15)                    2008 (Jan – Dec 15)              Difference

 Bankruptcy                    316              448                                                    +132

Total Consumer           812                1,075                                                +263

 

Total Employment      214                410                                                    +196

 

Total Housing                1,049            976                                                    -73(no HUD counseling grant in 2008)        

  

Additionally, there were 2,654 more calls answered at the SCLS Call Center through November 2008 over the same period last year.

 

About this time, you’re probably thinking, why celebrate? Doesn’t this simply confirm what everyone has been saying – we’re in a recession; more people need legal assistance; and legal assistance resources are being cut in record numbers. And you’re right, these numbers ARE horrific. And we could wallow. BUT let’s take a moment to recognize the good that HAS been done this year.

 

SCLS assisted 8,375 new clients this year. That’s 8,375 people who were given hope. That’s 8,375 people who probably were wondering what they would do if they lost their home, their job, their medical benefits. That’s 8.375 people whose request was taken seriously. That’s 8,375 people who received access to justice.

 

Sure, it’s likely that not all of the 8,375 individuals won their cases. But it is likely that having someone to listen to them and fight for their civil rights meant something incredible for every one of those 8,375 individuals.

 

You’ve had an opportunity to read about some of those individuals in this blog and I hope to continue to share their stories.

 

And I hope that your holiday is filled with peace and that you take a moment to celebrate the successes of South Carolina Legal Services, the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono volunteer attorneys, and everyone else who has been involved in the worthy cause to make access to justice a reality for all South Carolinians, regardless of their financial status.

 

I will be traveling next week and although I’ll attempt to check in, I may be “off the grid.”  If so, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, a Meaningful Kwanzaa and peace until then.

 

-RFW

Happy Thanksgiving Story out of SCLS!

turkeythanksgivingcactusautumnfall

Happy Thanksgiving Story out of SCLS!

 

Michael S. Gambrell, a South Carolina Legal Services attorney, received a jury verdict today (Monday, November 24, 2008) in a contested Magistrate Court trial that started Friday morning and ended today. The jury deliberated for one hour and ruled that a Mother and her 3 minor Children will remain in their home this Thanksgiving.

 

Some interesting notes about this case:

 

Mr. Gambrell, the attorney was personally served by the constable with this eviction action against the Mother. Mr. Gambrell decided under these circumstances to try the case even though this form of service is not in accordance with the laws of South Carolina.  and

 

The property is HUD-subsidized and HUD-regulated housing, even though it is private property.  Under Mr. Gambrell’s cross-examination, the landlord’s apartment manager openly admitted that the landlord had not followed HUD regulations in pursuing this eviction (i.e., no right to cure notice).  The attorney moved for directed verdict, which the judge denied.  The jury decided not to evict because the landlord had not followed HUD rules.  The jury would not have heard a word about HUD regulations if not for Mr. Gambrell. 

 

Kudos to Mr. Gambrell and SCLS!

 

And a very Happy Thanksgiving to the family who gets to stay in their home!

  

-RFW