Despite recent improvements in the economy, too many Connecticut homeowners - 1 in 27 homes statewide -
are still at serious risk of foreclosure. Some will need in-depth legal assistance to keep their homes, but for others, a little information and support
can go a long way.
That's why, since 2011,
the Center has participated in the State Judicial Branch's
Volunteer Attorney Program
(VAP), which enlists volunteer attorneys to provide free advice on common legal issues at Superior Courthouses in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Stamford, and Waterbury. The Center helped the Judicial Branch recruit and train volunteer attorneys for the program, and staffs a considerable portion of VAP time slots with its own attorneys.
At VAP advice tables, the Center's foreclosure prevention attorneys meet with homeowners to explain what to expect during the foreclosure process and, when possible, provide individual advice about their specific situation. The goal is to empower people with the information they need to effectively represent themselves in a foreclosure - and hopefully save their homes.
"The foreclosure process can be overwhelming, and many homeowners don't realize that they have certain rights," says CFHC Staff Attorney Loraine Martinez. She adds that many clients leave the VAP advice tables saying they "can breathe again" because they understand their options and know what steps to take.
This year, the Center's staff has assisted more than 439 homeowners through VAP. Anna Peterson* of New Haven was one of them. While out of town for several months to deal with a family crisis, Anna fell behind on her mortgage payments. She returned home in October to a foreclosure notice with a looming deadline.
At the VAP table, a
Center attorney reviewed Anna's situation and explained that she needed to file a motion to open judgement, which she did the very same day. As a result, she was granted a hearing that bought her more time to take advantage of the state's successful foreclosure mediation program, which helps about 70% of participants stay in their homes. Now that she understands the process and has more time to negotiate with her lender, Anna has a much better chance of keeping her home.
Homeowners can get advice through the Volunteer Attorney Program at any stage of the foreclosure process, but are encouraged to seek help as soon as possible. There are no income qualifications and no appointments needed.
If you are an attorney interested in volunteering for the program, please contact Cheryl Halford at (860) 263-2734 x3038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*client name changed to protect privacy