On December 2, 2014, NYLAG staff attended the forum “Combatting Foreclosure Rescue Scams: Taking Action Against Predatory Schemes” with  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Public Advocate Letitia James, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs Julie Menin, and many other city and state elected officials.

On December 2, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman gave opening remarks at a Brooklyn Law School forum on combating foreclosure scams. Public Advocate Letitia James, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs Julie Menin, and many other city and state officials, as well as NYLAG staff attended.

Thanks to new funding from the New York State Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) and the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN), NYLAG’s Foreclosure Prevention Project is expanding its presence on Long Island and in New York City, where maintaining homeownership continues to be a challenge for many families. Funds are enabling the agency to bring on three new attorneys dedicated to this critical work.

“We are fortunate that we live in a City and a State that recognizes the critical role that legal services can play in keeping families in their homes and contributing to the economic and social stability of our communities.” said Yisroel Schulman, NYLAG’s President and Attorney-in-Charge. “We are very grateful that the Attorney General and our partners at CNYCN continue to support our work to address the ongoing struggles of homeowners throughout New York.”

NYLAG’s Foreclosure Prevention Project was initially launched in 2008 in response to the economic crisis. It was one of the first programs in New York to offer full legal and financial counseling services to low income clients facing foreclosure. Six years later, the need for these services remains acute. The threat of foreclosure was exacerbated in late 2012 following Superstorm Sandy, which left hundreds of thousands of homeowners at risk. Today, while much of the housing market is rebounding, the problem remains severe in certain neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx — and Long Island saw a nearly 53% surge in foreclosure filings in the first eight months of 2013.

FPP - smallerNYLAG attorneys represent homeowners in all phases of foreclosure litigation, obtain loan modifications and other workout options, represent clients in short sale and deed in lieu transactions, and assist homeowners who have been scammed, among other services. Legal staff also represents elderly homeowners who are applying for reverse mortgages, assisting them with their mortgage applications and representing them at their closings.

NYLAG’s Foreclosure Prevention attorneys frequently receive referrals from judges, referees and opposing counsel, other NYLAG programs, and legal services organizations that do not have the capacity to represent clients in foreclosure matters. The Project also receives referrals from the Attorney General’s office and housing counselors, including those from CNYCN network agencies. And NYLAG is unique in its ability to respond. It maintains a dedicated Foreclosure Prevention hotline and has a presence in 111 community offices located in courts, hospitals, and social service organizations. The Project regularly conducts clinics in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Nassau and Suffolk counties, and staffs NYLAG’s Mobile Legal Help Center to reach homeowners who have difficulty leaving their neighborhoods to seek assistance.

Using this comprehensive outreach model, NYLAG has been extremely successful in reaching clients. Since its inception, the Foreclosure Prevention Project has provided direct services in nearly 2,500 foreclosure-related matters. The expanded project will be able to reach hundreds more with an even more robust and far-reaching range of foreclosure related services.