Attorney General Launches Multi-Million Dollar Grant Program for Foreclosure Defense Assistance


The Florida Bar Foundation will help administer $4 million in grants to legal services applicants

TALLAHASSEE, FL – July 28, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Attorney General Bill McCollum and The Florida Bar Foundation today announced a new foreclosure defense assistance program, funded by money obtained by the Attorney General through a settlement with Countrywide Financial. A total of $4 million will be available over two years to fund additional lawyer and paralegal positions devoted to providing free assistance to homeowners facing foreclosures who cannot afford legal defense. Florida currently has the fourth highest rate of foreclosures in the nation.

“The high number of foreclosures in Florida has left our homeowners vulnerable to fraud and desperate for assistance,” said Attorney General McCollum. “I know that the assistance these attorneys will provide will mean a world of difference to the homeowners they help.”

The funds are being distributed through The Florida Bar Foundation in the form of annual grants awarded to non-profit organizations that have their applications approved. The grants will vary in size depending on the number of foreclosures experienced in a particular area. A total of $2 million is available for distribution this year, and another $2 million will be available next year. The grants are expected provide the additional funding from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2011. The Attorney General’s Office will participate in the application review process and will work with The Florida Bar Foundation to award the funds.

The Attorney General was also joined a representative of the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA) and the Executive Director of Florida Legal Services, Inc.

“As President of the Cuban American Bar Association, I would like to personally thank Attorney General McCollum for his generosity, exemplary leadership and dedication to helping Floridians maintain the American Dream,” said Roland Sanchez-Medina Jr., President of the Cuban American Bar Association. “The Cuban American Bar Association and its Pro Bono Project are honored to be among those programs applying to participate in the Attorney General’s efforts to help Floridians maintain their homes. If awarded, these funds will help CABA assist low income Floridians across the state, and particularly those in Miami-Dade, who are in need of early intervention, counseling and pro bono legal services.”

“Bill McCollum and the Office of the Attorney General are to be commended for their support of The Florida Bar Foundation’s mortgage fraud pro bono attorney program,” said Cristina Alonso, President of Florida Legal Services, Inc., in a letter to the Attorney General’s Office. “In these economic times, many families have fallen victim to foreclosure rescue scams and related fraud. Through this program, legal services organizations, such as Florida Legal Services, Inc., have an opportunity to directly assist these families struggling with foreclosures.”

Florida, along with several other states, reached a settlement with Bank of America, the company which now owns Countrywide Financial, last October.

A copy of the letter from the President of Florida Legal Services, Inc. is available online at:$file/LegalServicesLetter.pdf

Contact: Sandi Copes
Phone: (850) 245-0150


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