State Bar aids homeowners facing
State Bar of California
The housing market finally seems to be rebounding, but the
effects of the foreclosure crisis continue to reverberate throughout
California. Many homeowners are still struggling and in need of help in order
to save their homes.
I wanted to let you know how our State Bar, in partnership
with the Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris, has stepped up to provide
In November, Harris announced a $10 million grant program
for organizations that provide housing counseling and legal services to
homeowners. The funds were secured through the National Mortgage Settlement.
The State Bar offered to help administer the new grant
program, in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office. Because the State
Bar already administers legal services grants, we were able to offer our help
at no cost to taxpayers. That means that the entire $10 million will go to the
people who are struggling and need it most.
The State Bar is currently compiling and processing dozens
of applications to help the selection teams set up by the Attorney General’s
office make funding recommendations to the Attorney General. These applications
are from legal aid organizations and other nonprofits proposing innovative,
scalable and sustainable approaches for helping California families dealing
with a foreclosure crisis.
About $9 million will go toward Consumer Assistance Grants,
which will give families the resources they need to achieve long-term financial
security, including counseling, legal representation and financial planning
The Homeowner Bill of Rights Implementation Grant, worth
about $1 million, is designed to make the most of a recent state law designed
to guarantee fairness and transparency for homeowners facing the foreclosure
process. The recipient will educate consumers and public interest attorneys
about the law and engage the bench and legal community in discussions about the
issues courts will face as parties begin to seek redress under the law.
This grant process is just part of a multi-year effort to
mitigate the harm to Californians from the foreclosure crisis. The State Bar's
Office of Legal Services – working with HUD, the California Office of Attorney
General, legal services programs, housing counseling agencies, and many other
groups – has convened five foreclosure prevention forums throughout California
since 2009. The bar also helped conduct foreclosure training last August, and
is planning another training event this spring.
The purpose of each event is to provide current foreclosure
information to legal services advocates and pro bono attorneys in an effort to
equip them with the tools necessary to assist Californians in need of legal
In addition, the State Bar offers
free Continuing Legal Education programs for pro bono attorneys on topics
directly and indirectly related to foreclosure. Over 3,000 California attorneys
have taken these free trainings, developed in conjunction with the Practising
Law Institute (PLI). For more information, go to the
Of course, the bar’s discipline system is diligent in
ensuring that lawyers are not violating their professional responsibilities in
this area, fraught with conflict, and we are proud that they are fulfilling
that important role.
And finally, the bar’s Ethics Hotline has been helping many
attorneys sort through specific questions that arise while handling foreclosure
cases. Attorneys should feel free to contact them at 1-800-238-4427.
I am proud of the fact that the State Bar and the legal
community are playing such an important role in making sure that Californians
continue the recovery from this devastating crisis.