Money Runs Out for Legal Help for Homeowners in Foreclosure

Federal Stimulus funds have run out for the more than 100 non-profits providing counseling and legal representation to homeowners facing foreclosure across the state, and the governor's recently released budget does not replace the lost federal monies.

The decision is worrying many legal advocates.

In a written statement, Statewide Campaign to Save the Foreclosure Prevention Services Program, a coalition of legal advocates, stated  "Homeowners across the sate will be left at the mercy of unscrupulous servicers and scam artists looking to take advantage of them."

While Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget does not replace the funds, it does create a new Foreclosure Relief Unit that will fall under the purview of the newly created Department of Financial Services.

"It's a different approach," Division of Budget spokesman Morris Peters said.  He explained the new unit will focus on education, outreach and a review of rules and regulations to make certain the foreclosure process is reasonable and protects homeowners.

Attorney Elizabeth Lynch with MFY Legal Services said she supported the new Foreclosure Relief Unit, but as compliment to, not a replacement for what legal advocates have already been doing on the ground for years.

"What homeowners need more than anything when they go into court is that they need an advocate and this foreclosure relief unit will not serve as that." Lynch said. She said foreclosure cases can drag on for years and the demand for homeowner representation is still strong.

No additional funds have been allocated for the new unit, but Peters said it will be a separate unit that will be fully staffed.