To assist low and middle income families facing foreclosure, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin today announced a two-year, $1.57 million grant to Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) to fund the Foreclosure Prevention Project.
The Foreclosure Prevention Project grant is funded through the National Mortgage Settlement between the five largest mortgage service providers and attorneys general nationwide. Under the terms of the national mortgage settlement, the State of Rhode Island, at the direction of Attorney General Kilmartin, received a direct payment of $8.9 million to help fund consumer protection and state foreclosure protection services.
With the grant, RILS expects to help stop, prevent, or delay the foreclosure of approximately 1,800 homes each year. Rhode Island Legal Service's direct representation includes assisting homeowners facing foreclosure in bankruptcy court, providing housing and foreclosure prevention counseling, negotiating directly with lenders on loan modifications and principal reductions, and filing lawsuits against predatory lenders.
"Many Rhode Islanders facing foreclosure cannot afford to hire a private attorney to advocate for them against the mortgage service providers or represent them in legal proceedings," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Rhode Island Legal Services has a long tradition and an excellent reputation for providing effective legal assistance and representation for those less fortunate. The Foreclosure Prevention Project will enable RILS to add the staff resources needed to refocus efforts on this critical legal problem confronting many homeowners."
In order to meet the rising demand for legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure, RILS will implement four key strategies designed to have the most impact in assisting at-risk homeowners to avoid foreclosure, including: pre and post foreclosure litigation; loan modification; post HAMP enforcement; and major impact litigation including bankruptcy when appropriate.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to assist distressed homeowners facing foreclosure and to provide them with the legal assistance necessary to prevent the loss of their home and the myriad of other problems that accompany every foreclosure," said Robert M. Barge, Executive Director of Rhode Island Legal Services. "RILS has the unique ability to reach those communities most affected by the foreclosure crisis and we look forward to working with housing counselors, community organizations and other agencies that are working to mitigate the foreclosure crisis."
In recent months, Attorney General Kilmartin met with several housing organizations to solicit proposals for grants to assist Rhode Island homeowners facing foreclosure. It is anticipated that more grants funded through the National Mortgage Settlement will be announced in the coming weeks.