A new initiative spearheaded by mayor Michael Bloomberg aims to provide free legal aid to New York City residents facing foreclosure.
The so-called “NYC Service Legal Outreach” will support homeowners with free legal assistance during the mandatory settlement conference stage, which is a meeting between the bank/mortgage lender and homeowner where foreclosure alternatives are negotiated.
Such conferences give homeowners an opportunity to avoid foreclosure, and the presence of legal representatives will likely improve a homeowner’s chances.
The NYC Service Legal Outreach program intends to recruit 300 volunteer attorneys over the next three months – 100 will be stationed at courthouses to screen homeowners and provide counsel.
An additional 200 attorneys will be directly matched with individual homeowners and will advocate for the homeowners throughout the foreclosure settlement process.
“The City’s legal community has a long, proud history of pro bono work, and we are tapping into that tradition to bolster our comprehensive effort to prevent foreclosures,” said NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a release.
“The City has not been hit as hard as some other areas by the foreclosure crisis, in part due to our efforts, but we are seeing a serious impact. No family facing the loss of their home should be without representation.”
Last year, there were 20,773 foreclosure filings in New York City, up from roughly 14,000 in 2007 and 2008.
That compares to less than 7,000 foreclosure filings in the City in 2004.
The NYC neighborhoods most impacted by foreclosure filings include Jamaica, Bellrose/Rosedale, Flatlands/Canarsie, East New York and the North Shore of Staten Island.
Homeowners facing foreclosure who are interested in retaining free legal services should go to www.nyc.gov or call 311.