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The New Hampshire Foreclosure Relief Project (FRP) has been up and running since last fall and has already benefited dozens of homeowners through a dedicated foreclosure hotline, free Foreclosure Relief Clinics, and other legal and informational services.
Funded by a portion of the National Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement, through the NH Attorney Generalís Office, FRP is a collaborative effort of three legal service providers: NH Bar Associationís Legal Services Department (NHBA); NH Legal Assistance (NHLA) and the Legal Advice and Referral Center (LARC). The project is designed to help homeowners at all income levels who are struggling with foreclosure and other mortgage-related problems.
The Bar, NHLA and LARC have streamlined access to services for homeowners seeking legal help. With LARC as the primary entry point for intake, screening and initial advice, homeowners can access FRP resources by phone, online or at a clinic. NHLA attorneys and volunteer attorneys working with the NH Bar are representing homeowners in a variety of foreclosure and other legal matters.
Help for Homeowners
LARC set up a dedicated toll-free phone number (877-399-9995) that connects homeowners with foreclosure attorneys. LARCís lawyers counsel and evaluate the homeownerís problem, coach self-help clients and refer to NHLA or the NHBA as appropriate. Phone lines are open during regular business hours and messages are returned within 48 hours. If a LARC advocate does not answer the phone, the homeowner may leave a voicemail message in English or Spanish. There is no queue. The message is short and voicemail is available in English, Spanish and for those who are hard of hearing. Homeowners can also apply for LARCís assistance online at www.nhlegalaid.com.
More than two dozen homeowners have received information and met privately with attorneys at the first three foreclosure clinics held at various locations around the state. Organized by NHBA Legal Services, with the assistance of volunteer and contract attorneys, these free clinics are designed to educate homeowners about the basics of mortgage loans and provide guidance on accessing housing counselors and legal services.
Eight more Foreclosure Relief Clinics are scheduled for locations throughout New Hampshire between now and September. All attendees will meet one-on-one with an experienced foreclosure attorney for a 20-minute consultation and receive guidance and direction to the appropriate legal programs.
Through the NHBA Lawline program, experienced foreclosure attorneys will also answer legal questions from homeowners from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, and Tuesday, Aug. 6. To access one of these Foreclosure Relief Help Lines, homeowners can call 800-868-1212.
Training for Attorneys
Due to the scope of services that will be available through FRP, every attorney who would like to participate in the Project is required to attend a full-day training on the legal essentials for representing homeowners in crisis. This training, presented by the National Consumer Law Center and New Hampshire foreclosure defense attorneys, is designed to equip FRP attorneys to handle foreclosure cases. A replay of the initial live training is scheduled for Thursday, June 13, at the NH Bar Center.
The Project complements each full-day training session with a two-hour informational session, also held at the NH Bar Center. These sessions provide an overview of the support services available to Project attorneys and a brief summary of the factual and legal issues that are often present in foreclosure relief cases. At the end of the informational session, Project attorneys will be eligible to have FRP cases referred to them. Upon acceptance of a case, attorneys will have access to FRPís private weblog, which will include pleadings, court orders/opinions and an opportunity to post questions and answers in a private forum for Project participants only.
Additionally, all project attorneys will have the opportunity to collaborate with an FRP contract attorney who will provide ongoing litigation support throughout the pendency of Project-referred cases.
Participation in the Project is open to all attorneys willing to attend the low-cost, full-day training and one two-hour small group informational session. Project attorneys are also required to participate in a Foreclosure Relief Clinic or Lawline and enroll in the Barís Pro Bono or Reduced-Fee Referral FRP panel.
Attorneys interested in participating in the Project should contact FRP Coordinator Vanessa Beauchesne at FRP@nhbar.org.
Krista Atwater of Atwater Law and Mary Stewart of Mary Stewart Law PLLC have contracted with the NHBA Legal Services Department to assist attorneys participating in the FRP.