Bar Association of Baltimore City Hosts 22nd Annual Law Day for Seniors

The Bar Association of Baltimore City’s Senior Legal Services Program is proud to announce that it will host its 22nd Annual Law Day for Seniors event:

Saturday, April 20, 2013 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Borgerding District Court Building

5800 Wabash Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21215

The event attracts hundreds of Baltimore City seniors every year for informative talks on legal topics pertinent to seniors.  This year, attorneys will be discussing: What To Do When a Loved One Dies, and Landlord/Tenant Issues Facing Senior Citizens.  Additionally, there will also be a Medicare Part D update and a round table Ask an Attorneyquestion and answer session for seniors at the event, a “Benefits Check Up” and many resource/referral materials.  Breakfast and lunch provided.

To reserve your free seat at Senior Law Day, contact Jacqueline Jones at jjones@baltimorebar.org or 410-396-5278. Provide your name and number of attending seniors. Group Reservations are welcome. Free Onsite Parking and Handicapped Accessible.

The 22nd annual Law Day for Seniors is made possible through the generous support of Saul Ewing, LLP, The Health Department of Baltimore City, CARE Services, The Maryland Legal Services Corporation and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc.

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Legal Department: Webpage launch & Maryland Daily Record article

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Legal Services launched a webpage on Monday, March 18, 2013 that allows clients to complete intake securely online (click above image).

There are exciting things happening in St. Ambrose’s Legal Services program.  On Monday, March 18, 2013 two things occured.  The program launched a new webpage which allows people facing a legal problems to send a question and complete intake securely online.  This was made possible by a grant from the Baltimore Bar Foundation.

Also on Monday, the Legal Department was featured in the Maryland Daily Record in an article by Joe Surkiewicz [Full Article: Subscriber Access Required].  Legal Director Jeanette Cole and Executive Director Gerard Joab were interviewed and quoted in the story:

Getting the legal program on track is Jeanette Cole, who joined St. Ambrose last year as director of legal services.

“The plan is not only to address foreclosure head-on, but to assist people before the problems lead to foreclosure — such as with consumer debt and credit reports,” Cole said. “When people are in financial distress, an appointment to see a lawyer is not always a priority, or even a hurdle they think they have to deal with. So it pays to be proactive. And it helps to have housing counselors, who the clients see first and are often referred to a lawyer here.”

Currently, Cole has one staff attorney and is in the process of hiring another. “We’re going out into the community, working with community organizers and offering a lawyer for free sitting at a desk and talking to clients,” she said.

Preventative issues that can be resolved with the help of a lawyer include helping people get the public benefits they’re entitled to.

Jeanette Cole shared a few recent client stories:

One recent client is a woman who has been raising her grandchild for 10 years. “The father was paying the mother child support, but not the grandmother,” Cole said. “With our assistance, she got the pro se forms and a family law attorney. Now she gets the child support paid directly to her.”

As a result, the grandmother can now afford to move to a safer neighborhood. “This impacts the quality of life for the child,” Cole noted. “That’s not foreclosure work. But it improved the quality of housing and the quality of the child’s life.”

Another result of outreach: “We found a house where rooms are rented and an entire family was living in one room,” Cole said. “We assisted them when the house went into foreclosure. The landlord didn’t tell them! With our help, they weren’t put out on the street.

“Foreclosure is such a final step for people,” Cole added. “Foreclosure prevention is ultimately what we’re about, using housing counselors and lawyers. We help them before things get too bad.”

Regarding the Department’s revamped priorities and intake process:

So far, Cole and her staff are meeting the foreclosure prevention demand. “When people are in distress, you can’t tell them to come back in two weeks,” she said. “It’s important that they know they spoke with a lawyer. We have open intake, not just certain hours.”

The bottom line is direct services to clients.

“It’s important and part of St. Ambrose’s history,” Joab said. “If you need help, this is where you come.”

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center’s Legal Department can be reached in the following ways:

Online: [click here for webpage] or [click here for online intake]

Email: Legal@stambros.org

Phone: 410-366-8550 x249

Homebuyer education as foreclosure prevention

homeownershipNew research has been released on the effectiveness of pre-purchase housing counseling and education – a core service available at St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center. The research found that homebuyers who received counseling were one-third less likely to fall behind on their mortgages 90 days or more, two years after taking out the loan, compared to homebuyers who did not receive similar counseling and education. The research was done for NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit affiliated with St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, by Neil Mayer and Associates and Experian, and is based on approximately 75,000 mortgage loans originated in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Read the Executive Summary here >>

Read the Full Report here >>

The research findings have important implications for St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center and the entire housing counseling and education industry.  While we have long known anecdotally that pre-purchase housing counseling and education provided by certified professionals at St. Ambrose is effective at helping to create homeowners who are less likely to default, this research provides significant backup.

The NeighborWorks America research shows how a small investment up front that finances the availability of pre-purchase housing counseling and education can help homeowners avoid financial losses by potentially staving off serious delinquency that has a good chance of extending into foreclosure, help prevent disruption of family life, and help keep communities stable that might be hurt by home foreclosure.

Estimates vary, but total losses due to foreclosure borne by local governments, servicers and households can exceed $50,000 per foreclosure, according to a report from the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey for the fourth quarter of 2012, the percentage of residential mortgage loans 90 days or more past due across the country was 6.78 percent, and 3.74 percent of homeowners nationwide were in foreclosure. By providing NeighborWorks pre-purchase housing counseling and education to more consumers, it’s likely that tens of thousands of the more than 1.5 million homeowners who received a default notice in 2012 may have been able to avoid entering foreclosure.

Repeat Homebuyers

Interestingly, the NeighborWorks America research shows that even repeat homebuyers benefit from receiving NeighborWorks pre-purchase housing counseling and education. According to the report, repeat homebuyers who received the services also are about one-third less likely to fall 90 days or more behind in their mortgages than repeat homebuyers who didn’t receive NeighborWorks pre-purchase housing counseling and education.

“More analysis of the data is required to determine the factors for the repeat homebuyer results,” said NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen Fitzgerald. “But one thing is clear from the data: housing counseling is effective, even if you’ve been a homeowner before.”

Last week St. Ambrose was awarded $600,000 for Legal Services through the Attorney General’s Mortgage Servicer Settlement Fund. This week, we received confirmation of another award specifically for Foreclosure Prevention Counseling. More information to come.

Homeownership Counseling – 2013 Workshop Dates Released

Homeownership Director Anthony Parran leading a workshop at St. Ambrose.
Homeownership Director Anthony Parran leading a workshop at St. Ambrose.

St. Ambrose’s Homeownership Counseling Program has released the dates for workshops in 2013.  These FREE workshops last 6-hours and count toward meeting HUD’s 8-hour counseling requirement for first-time home buyers.

The workshops and follow-up counseling sessions can also qualify new home buyers for special grants and closing cost assistance programs; for example, Wells Fargo’s CityLIFT incentive in Baltimore.

To register, email Pamela Petty at PamP@stambros.org or call Pamela at 410-366-8550 ext. 222.  Registration is required; continental breakfast and lunch provided.

2013 Workshop Dates:

January 19

February 16

March 16

April 20

May 18

June 15

July 20

August 17

September 21

October 19

November 16

December 15

Notes on the end (of the year)

We heard little about the social or “nonprofit” sector during election season, but a deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” is sure to have tangible impacts on charitable organizations in 2013. Questions going forward: How might proposed limits to charitable deductions impact philanthropic giving? How might cuts to domestic spending trickle down to ground-level, organizational budgets? How will nonprofits respond during and after the debate? This Nonprofit Quarterly article provides a thorough description of the nonprofit policy challenges during the next year and is worth a glance…

One takeaway from the “challenges” article: despite the “nonprofit” moniker, 501(C)(3) organizations are economic engines and need to do a better job of pointing that out. St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center employs 40 people who earn real money, and real benefits for the work they put in to St. Ambrose’s services and programs. Nobody runs on good feelings alone; at the end of the day St. Ambrose employees have families to feed, bills to pay, and things to buy just like everyone else.

Don’t fall prey to a misconception; nonprofit organizations are not run by volunteers. Independent Sector, a nonprofit and philanthropic advocacy organization, estimates that 13.5 million nonprofit employees, 10% of the nation’s workforce, were paid $668 billion in wages and benefits in 2009. With more workers than the finance, insurance and real estate industries combined, we are a significant part of the economic food chain.

An organization’s resources come from varied sources.  For example, St. Ambrose earns income through the sale of renovated homes; foundation grants and government contracts are tied to specific programs and outcomes. Most importantly, we have a growing group of dedicated donors who believe in our mission and think we are doing a good job at achieving it. What better way to express your vote of confidence in a favorite charity, than by donating online to one today?