Distressed homeowners to receive assistance from law school

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mary Ellen Natale
Distressed homeowners have a new advocate in their corner as the Homeowner Advocacy Unit in the Civil Justice Clinic at the College of Law opens its doors this month.

In response to the foreclosure crisis, student attorneys enrolled in the new program will start working with clients who have been victims of mortgage fraud or are facing a wrongful foreclosure. The unit is made possible through a three-year grant from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the law school to provide a valuable public service while training up to 90 new attorneys over the next three years in the skills needed to become effective advocates on behalf of distressed homeowners,” said Interim Dean Douglas Sylvester. “We are grateful to the Attorney General’s Office for funding this project. It comes at a time when the community is in desperate need of professionals with training in the complex legal and social issues created by the mortgage crisis.

“The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has a rich, 40-year history of clinical education because we believe in the extraordinary educational value of the training clinics provide to law students and the important benefits clinics bring to the community of clients they serve,” Sylvester added.

The Homeowner Advocacy Unit will be accepting clients referred by the Arizona Foreclosure Task Force as well as other community organizations who work with distressed homeowners.

“Arizona is one of the hardest hit states in matters of foreclosure and distressed mortgages,” said Mary Ellen Natale, director of the Homeowner Advocacy Unit. “We began accepting referrals from our community partners last week, and we already have a waiting list of potential clients. Our students are eager to learn about the challenging legal issues faced by these clients so that they can begin advocating on their behalf.”

In addition to helping distressed homeowners, the new unit will also be working on public education and outreach efforts with community groups. These efforts will include presentations on foreclosure and mortgage-related matters to community groups as well as Continuing Legal Education presentations for attorneys who are seeing more clients with mortgage-related legal issues.

If you are a homeowner with mortgage problems or are facing foreclosure, please contact the Arizona Foreclosure Task Force for assistance at 1-877-448-1211 or visit the task force website at www.azforeclosureprevention.org.

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