ATJI and Clinic launch Foreclosure Mediation and Outreach Project
January 09, 2012
A new project through the Access to Justice Institute at Seattle University School of Law will help distressed homeowners involved in foreclosure mediation. The law school received a $31,000 grant from the Attorney General's Office to help fund the Foreclosure Mediation and Outreach Project.
The project will let more people know about Washington's new Foreclosure Fairness Act, which provides homeowners facing foreclosure the opportunity to be referred by a housing counselor or attorney to mediation with their lender to review available options to keep their home. A mediator helps the homeowner and the lender reach a fair, voluntary and negotiated agreement.
It is collaboration between ATJI and the Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic to place law student volunteers as interns to assist attorneys representing homeowners in foreclosure mediations and to create and implement community education outreach plans to vulnerable homeowners in Pierce County, which has some of the state's highest foreclosure rates, as well as disproportionately low numbers of foreclosure mediation requests.
"This project leverages law school resources to help address the current foreclosure crisis, engages students in the service of justice and supports the excellent work being done by legal aid organizations," said Diana Singleton, director of the Access to Justice Institute. Some student participants are in Professor Bryan Adamson's Foreclosure Mediation Practicum course, and others will volunteer through ATJI. Students will intern with pro bono attorneys at the Home Foreclosure Legal Assistance Program based at Northwest Justice Project in representing homeowners in foreclosure mediations. Community partners include NJP, Columbia Legal Services, the Washington State Bar Association and the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association Volunteer Legal Services.
The nine-month grant will allow the hiring of a part-time attorney project coordinator, who will launch and manage the project and a student leader to work with the project coordinator.
"Given what is at stake at the mediation, distressed homeowners should have some representation or advocates assist them with the mediation," Adamson said. "The FMO Project will reach hundreds of citizens who are trying to navigate the foreclosure mediation process to preserve homeownership. Homeownership is not only beneficial to the residents, but also to the neighborhoods and our cities."