Category Archives: Foreclosures

Massachusetts HomeCorps Program

I recently rediscovered this article in the National Consumer Law Center’s Consumer Impact Newsletter about the early stages of HomeCorps.  The article is from the Spring 2013 newsletter, and on page 8, describes the Massachusetts HomeCorps Program as a “small battalion [of legal services attorneys that] has been deployed to stop foreclosures in their tracks.”

Starting in 2012, I was one of the 18 attorneys hired to advocate for homeowners, tenants, and consumers facing foreclosure-related issues.  We are housed in legal aid agencies across the state of Massachusetts with cases from various counties.  We advocate on behalf of our clients on a vast range issues like housing, consumer rights, debt collection, mortgage issues, tax lien cases, property lien cases, and loan modification issues.

HomeCorps and legal services was one of the most fantastic, humbling, fulfilling, exciting, and challenging jobs that I have ever had.  I truly loved working with my colleagues and clients.  After three years with HomeCorps and legal aid, I have started the next chapter of my life and moved to Washington DC to pursue an LL.M. at the Georgetown University Law Center.

As the Massachusetts HomeCorps Program continues to grow with the National Consumer Law Center, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, it will be interesting to see how it evolves and adapts to fit the needs of communities!

Tagged ,

Legal Aid Legislative Briefings at the Massachusetts State House

Earlier this week on Monday, February 10th, I spent the morning at the Massachusetts State House for the 13th Annual Civil Legal Aid Constituent Services Briefing.  Legal aid advocates from across the state spoke to leaders, aides, and state house staffers about issues that impact people.  Specifically, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation brought in attorneys to focus on unemployment, the impact of the American Care Act on health care, housing, foreclosures, homelessness, domestic violence, and government benefits.  I have included a few pictures from the morning below.

Weyonnoh Nelson-Davies, Mehda Makhlouf, and I answering questions at the Community Legal Aid table at the State House.

Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies, Mehda Makhlouf, and I answering questions at the Community Legal Aid table at the State House.

Mehda Makhlouf talking about Medicare, Medicaid, MassHealth, Commonwealth Connector, and other health care items.

Mehda Makhlouf talking about Medicare, Medicaid, MassHealth, Commonwealth Connector, and other health care items.

Marc Potvin, from Neighborhood Legal Services, informing others about foreclosure law.

Marc Potvin, from Neighborhood Legal Services, informing others about foreclosure law.

Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies speaking about government benefits.

Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies speaking about government benefits.

In addition to meeting legislative staffers from offices based out of Worcester and Hampden County, I met Christine Lee who is a reporter for Channel 22 News.  I would just like to note that she was a lawyer before she became a journalist.  Follow her on Twitter at @christinenews .

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Case Blurb: U.S. Bank v. Edna and John Schumacher

U.S. Bank National Association v. Edna and John Schumacher is scheduled for oral arguments in front of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) on Thursday, November 7th.  If you want to watch the live streaming of the oral arguments, Suffolk Law has a webcast available here.  Suffolk Law also archives webcasts in case you are not available at the exact time the video is real-time broadcasted.

U.S. Bank v. Schumacher is a post-foreclosure case that was originally argued in the Worcester Housing Court before it was transferred sua sponte from the Appeals Court to the SJC.  In the Worcester Housing Court, Judge Sullivan ruled in favor of U.S. Bank.  Mr. Schumacher was originally represented by the Alliance for Affordable Housing.  When Mr. Schumacher appealed, he obtained legal representation with Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center.  U.S. Bank was originally represented by Harmon Law Offices.  U.S. Bank is currently represented by Nelson Mullins in the SJC matter.

In this case, Mr. Schumacher argues that the foreclosure is void because the Bank failed to fully comply with M.G.L. c. 244, sec. 35A.  Pushing for strict compliance of the statute, the Appellant emphasizes that the right to cure letter that was mailed to him did not state the name of the mortgage holder of record.  In contrast, U.S. Bank argues that substantial compliance is enough.  Through out Massachusetts, the courts are split on the interpretation of this particular law.

In addition to the appellant and appellee briefs that were filed, several amicus briefs were submitted in support of both sides.  For the Plaintiff/Appellee U.S. Bank, the Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts (REBA) and the Abstract Club wrote a combined brief.  For the Defendant/Appellant Mr. Schumacher, Community Legal Aid, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office submitted three separate briefs.  The docket and electronic versions of the amicus briefs are available here.

In addition, Brandon Gee at Mass Lawyers Weekly recently published an article titled, “SJC to Consider Foreclosure Sale Notice Mistakes,” regarding the U.S. Bank v. Schumacher case.  The publication is available here, but you will need a subscription to access the full article.  Gee wrote in the piece:

[I]n an amicus brief submitted in support of the defendant-appellant, Community Legal Aid Inc. says the mistakes being made are more than mere technicalities and that strict compliance must be required.

Community Legal Aid attorneys Allen Acosta, Sora J. Kim and Uri Y. Strauss argue in the brief that one of the purposes of the notices was to allow the Division of Banks to develop a database to track foreclosure activities by particular lenders, brokers and servicers. Even if a mistake identifying the players has no practical impact on individual foreclosures, it undermines the monitoring effort, the organization contends.

Community Legal Aid says mistakes are widespread and varied and have included notices that list incorrect telephone numbers, that have been sent to the wrong people, that have identified the wrong mortgage, and that have included the incorrect amount of money required to cure a default.

Tagged , , ,

NCLC Consumer Law Conference Nov. 7-10, 2013

I want to draw your attention to the National Consumer Law Center‘s (“NCLC”) Annual Conference scheduled for November 7 to November 10th in Arlington, Virginia.  NCLC is well known for their extensive guidebooks on consumer law ranging from topics about student loans to foreclosure law to credit reporting.

The organization just released the agenda for the Consumer Law Conference and the program is filled with hot topics about class actions, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) regulations, maximizing damages, loss mitigation, litigating debts, and much more.  A full schedule with speaker bios and panel names is available here.  If you want to register for the NCLC Conference, click on this link here to access their website.  NCLC will also offer, for an additional fee on top of the regular registration fee, a one day symposium at the end of the conference on either bankruptcy for distressed homeowners or class actions in consumer law.

Tagged , , , , ,