Category Archives: foreclosure

Attorney General Doug Gansler presents Legal Aid with $3.6 million from national foreclosure settlement

wilhelmgansler011013_smallMaryland Attorney General Doug Gansler presented Legal Aid with a check for $3.6 million at a press conference yesterday in the Baltimore office. The money originated from the $26 billion National Mortgage Settlement. Five other legal aid programs also received checks: Civil Justice ($1.4 million), the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service ($930,000), the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center ($600,000), the Pro Bono Resource Center ($565,000) and the Public Justice Center ($510,000).

“The people being recognized today do God’s work,” Gansler (right in photo, along with Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm Joseph and Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development Carol Gilbert, left) said at the press conference yesterday. “This money will help more than 10,000 families keep their homes, not be victims of predatory lending and get thrown out of their homes. People need housing counselors and lawyers to navigate the deal, so we’re giving more than $7 million to these six organizations.”

“This is a very important occasion and I see lots of smiles,” Joseph said. “Usually, people in this lobby aren’t smiling, because they have very serious legal issues. We appreciate the attorney general for his leadership in a national role in forging the national foreclosure settlement. Because of him, Maryland ended up with a substantial settlement.”

Legal aid adds millions to Ohio economy

The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation released an economic impact study showing that legal aid generated millions of dollars in economic activity for the Ohio communities it serves.

An example: In 2010, legal aid saved nearly 1,000 homes across the state from foreclosure, according to the report. Since even one foreclosed home in a neighborhood can lower property values for other homes by as much as 2.1 percent, the study estimates that legal aid helped protect more than $2.7 million in home value.

To read a Dayton Business Journal article about the report, click here. To read the report, click here.

Legal Aid represents disabled woman barred from apartment for wrong breed of service dog

Metropolitan Maryland office staff attorney Sara Wilkinson

Hazel Sanders, an elderly, disabled Howard Co. woman, can’t move into a subsidized apartment because the management of the complex says her service dog–a Rottweiler–is “inherently dangerous” and it won’t allow a service-animal exception to its no-pets policy.

Anne Benaroya, an expert on animal law quoted in today’s front-page Baltimore Sun article, said the policy shows the potentially far-reaching consequences of a recent Court of Appeals ruling on pit bulls that quoted a 2000 study by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The study concluded that Rottweilers and pit bulls made up more than half of human deaths from dog bites.

Legal Aid staff attorney Sara C. Wilkinson, who represents Sanders, said the argument doesn’t hold up, arguing there’s no Maryland law on Rottweilers, her client’s dog has no history of aggressive behavior, and that  “most importantly, federal anti-discrimination law protecting the disabled should trump a brief mention of a 12-year-old veterinary article in a case regarding pit bulls.”

To read the article, click here.

The foreclosure crisis hits seniors hard

Midday with Dan Rodricks on WYPR-FM explored a new AARP report that says the number of older Americans seriously delinquent on loans jumped more than 450 percent in the last five years.

Some 3.5 million older homeowners are underwater on their mortgages.  Older African Americans and Hispanics are the hardest hit. A show earlier this week looked at how the mortgage crisis has effected the country’s senior citizens and left millions of them fiscally vulnerable in retirement.

Dan’s guests were Vicki King Taitano, director of the Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project at Maryland Legal, and Susan Reinhard, senior vice president and director for the AARP Public Policy Institute. To hear the show, click here.

Civil legal aids to bid for foreclosure settlement funds

The two Maryland jurisdictions hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis–Baltimore City and Prince George’s Co.–will each get $10 million out of Maryland’s $1 billion share of the multi-billion dollar nationwide settlement, The Daily Record reported. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler made the announcement yesterday.

Nonprofit legal aid programs will bid for shares of $6.2 million earmarked for helping low-income people with their foreclosure problems.

“Legal Aid Bureau Inc., which provides free legal assistance, will seek a share of the $6.2 million through the RFP and would use its allotted money to help low-income homeowners facing foreclosure and related legal problems such as bankruptcy, said C. Shawn Boehringer, the group’s chief counsel,” the article said.

The face of foreclosure in Maryland

Today’s lead letter to the editor in the Washington Post paints a clearer picture of the foreclosure crisis than an article that appeared on the front page over the weekend.

“The March 4 front-page article ‘We don’t believe in living for free’ told of a Prince George’s County couple fighting eviction from their home of five years even though they had never paid any money on their mortgage. While fascinating, the article did not reveal the true face of foreclosure in the county, and it was a disservice to readers who want to understand the situation,” wrote Vicki King Taitano, director of Maryland Legal Aid’s Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project.

“The reality of foreclosure in Prince George’s is this: People were aggressively pursued by mortgage brokers, who in turn received bonuses from banks for selling consumers high-interest loans,” Taitano continued. “The foreclosure crisis is not the result of speculation by people such as Keith and Janet Ritter, the focus of the article.”

To read the entire letter, click here.

Legal Aid foreclosure expert in the Post

After Occupy D.C. protestors rallied in support of Bertina Jones, a grandmother who lost her Bowie home to foreclosure, the Washington Post spoke with the director of Maryland Legal Aid’s Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project.

“Occupiers chose Jones to rally behind after discussions with staffers at Maryland’s Legal Aid Bureau, where Vicki King Taitano, who directs the bureau’s foreclosure legal assistance project, has championed Jones’s case for months,” today’s article said. “’This is a perfect example of a woman who was making her payments, and they still foreclosed on her,’ Taitano said.”

To read the article, click here.