The following article appeared August 29, 2013 on the New City Patch website.
The Legal Aid Society of Rockland County, Inc. (LASRC) successfully represented a Haverstraw homeowner against Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Co. On August 19, 2013, following four days of testimony, Wells Fargo agreed to refund an unspecified sum in additional interest that had accrued during the three years she had tried to obtain a modified mortgage while interest continued to accumulate.
“Those three years were a nightmare,” said the homeowner, a special education teacher who asked that her name not be used. “We contacted Wells Fargo even before we fell behind. Our lives were in upheaval for the three years we tried to get them to help us,” she said. She had sought help from Wells Fargo, sending and re-sending documents countless times and speaking to dozens of different representatives, only to be told that they had to keep starting over.
Legal Aid attorney Aimee Pollak, Esq., who represented the homeowner, said, “Wells Fargo took bailout money from the taxpayers. They were required to treat this family fairly and give them the modification they were entitled to under the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Our clients sought help from their bank, and what they got in return was a three year ordeal and a bill for thousands of dollars extra.” She continued, “What is even more tragic is that their case is not unique. So many of our clients have sought help from the banks only to face these continued delays and repeated mishandling of their paperwork.”
The Legal Aid Society provides free civil legal services to local residents who cannot afford private attorneys. In recent years, the number of their foreclosure clients has increased dramatically. LASRC attorneys provided legal assistance to 396 homeowners since January 2013; nearly 200 of these cases were new in 2013, confirming that for many in our community, the foreclosure crisis is far from over.
Unfortunately, the funds available to help them are decreasing. This year, Legal Aid will lose $100,000 in foreclosure funding – a reduction of nearly 30%. “It’s a real crisis,” said Alexander Bursztein, Executive Director of LASRC. “Homeowners are continuing to struggle, but the resources we have to help our clients are dwindling. We continue to do as much as we can, but every day is an uphill battle,” said Bursztein.
The Legal Aid Society of Rockland County is a private, nonprofit law firm serving low and moderate-income residents of Rockland County. To find out more about the Legal Aid Society, call (845) 634-3627, or visit their website at www.legalaidrockland.org.