The 2008 housing market crisis began a startling trend that caused millions of Americans to lose their homes. Unfortunately, the foreclosure crisis has shown no signs of declining in recent years. New York is no exception, and the continuing foreclosure crisis has severely aggravated the chronic housing problems for lower income New Yorkers. Low-income minority neighborhoods have been particularly hard hit because people of color were aggressively targeted for abusive, unaffordable loans; many of these neighborhoods are in Brooklyn A’s service area, including East New York/Starrett City, Canarsie/Flatlands, Brownsville/Ocean Hill, East Flatbush, and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
DIRECT CLIENT SERVICES
Brooklyn A represents clients in cases that have the greatest impact on their ability to secure and maintain safe and affordable housing. We perform detailed intake and assessment on clients in the midst of the foreclosure process as well as those in danger of foreclosure. Attorneys in the foreclosure defense program provide advice, counsel and representation to hundreds of homeowners each year.
Once working with individuals, we may evaluate cases for discrimination if such a claim is made, and litigate these cases for individuals experiencing prohibited discrimination. Brooklyn A may also bring affirmative litigation on behalf of cooperative owners on the verge of having their homes sold by preventing scheduled sales through injunctions. We are therefore able to combine expertise in foreclosure and cooperative law, a rarity in that most other foreclosure advocates are often inexperienced in cooperative law.
Our direct work includes:
- Eviction defense and monitoring of the foreclosure process to ensure that the procedure is fair and the law is appropriately followed and applied
- Assistance to homeowners in settlement conferences in helping to renegotiate the terms of loans
- Provision of intervention services to avoid imminent loss of home
- Honest and unbiased advising on retention of the home
- Assistance to homeowners in analyzing mortgages and other legal documents to determine appropriate legal defenses and counterclaims
Brooklyn A also conducts work throughout our communities in order to address the issue of foreclosure before it occurs. Our organization:
- Provides training to professionals and the public on subjects ranging from the general foreclosure process to an overview of reverse mortgages
- Helps organize and support tenant associations
- Serves as in-house counsel to grassroots groups building and operating low-income tenant-run cooperatives
- Advocates for policies and programs to provide greater protection for tenants
- Promotes affordable housing by participating in administrative hearings relating to public and subsidized housing, and housing conditions and habitability
- Helps to ensure that senior citizens have access to safe and affordable housing
In addition to our general foreclosure work, we process those foreclosures that result from unfair or deceptive practices during loan origination (see: Anti-Predatory Lending).
In addition to our normal intake hours, we hold several intakes per month in collaboration with elected officials and social service agencies in locations that include their offices and headquarters.
Brooklyn A is strongly committed to building and strengthening a network of legal advocates on the local, state and national levels with the expertise to confront this current foreclosure crisis. We will continue to support and consult with several partners, with whom we have had long term relationships, such as Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Inc. and Brooklyn Housing and Family Services; both organizations provide counseling and non-legal advocacy to homeowners that face housing discrimination and/or foreclosure. Our foreclosure work is also supported by our active participation in the Center for New York City Neighborhoods and its network of advocates around the city.
Another integral component of our mission involves educating and providing consultation and technical assistance to other attorneys and advocates who assist homeowners at risk of foreclosure due to discriminatory lending or sales practices. We have participated in the creation of a new collective, Kings County Foreclosure Defense Bar, which is comprised of non profit, for profit and government advocates who seek to prevent foreclosures.
PRO BONO PARTNERS
Cuti & Wang LLP
New York State Foreclosure Defense Bar