Tag Archives: Legal Aid

Helping Homeowners in the New Year

If you are like me, you’ve given some money in the last few weeks to causes you believe in and you’ve given generously.  Even though my family has faced some tough financial times I know we’re lucky to have as much as we do despite a job loss, health issues, etc.  I know that there are families out there that are struggling far more and fairing even worse.

The last decade has seen the further decline of the middle class as massive amounts of wealth as transferred to the top 5%.  For many the last vestige of hope remained in their homes.  That too is crumbling, for many, due to no fault of their own.

And the feeble attempt by the Government to bail out these homeowners has been a failure compared to the massive bail out Wallstreet received and the big banks received from our Government.  There is just no comparison in fact.

Now, anyone here who reads regularly knows that HAMP, etc. has been ridiculously unsuccessful and Foreclosures are on the rise.

State attorneys general and regulators have been pushing banks to perform more loan modifications and the report shows these efforts have had mixed results.

Overall home retention actions taken by banks dropped by 17 percent compared to the second quarter, but most of that was due to decreases in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the Obama administration’s leading foreclosure prevention effort.

In the third quarter, HAMP loan modifications slid by almost 46 percent, according to the report.

Of course Republicans are arguing that HAMP is a huge failure and the program should be ended.  The issue isn’t the program (although it could have been a better program) but the banks dragging their feet for months now and the illegal activity involved with the foreclosure process that leaves many homeowners without any protection from their banks is unprecedented.  That is the issue, it is the greed by the banks to put the bottom line before keeping people in their homes.

This is, to me, this is the middle class.  Homeowners make up a huge part of the middle class, those who have invested a great deal in owning a home, putting down roots in a community and investing in an area.  I don’t think it should be seen as a time gone by, I don’t think it should be seen as something that has past because it is part of what makes people want to invest in the common good of their shared communities, those around them.  (And no, I’m not saying that renters do not want to invest in the community around them, this argument always sends my left eye twitching.)  . . .

But I have fallen into that idealistic bunch of people that believe the equity in a home is just one way a family can build some wealth, a middle class to upper middle class family can put money away each month as they pay their mortgage rather than paying someone else’s mortgage.  But ultimately this has been destroyed by the mortgage meltdown, the banking system failure and the absolutely dismal reaction by our Government to protect homeowners and the middle class.  This has been thirty years coming.

And I often hear people say, good.  Let home prices come down, they were too high, screw the boomers, screw the people who bought their houses for too much and let others get in on the market as those prices begin to decline.  This will give so many other people a chance to be homeowners.  (Which is true on it’s own, home prices are down, they were too high and should come down).

And to that I say, why not just be a fucking Republican then?  This is where the downfall of millions is the only way that many can afford a home? (The let them fail mentality)  It’s just not how progressives should think.  It’s not how this progressive thinks and every time I would see that argument, I would shudder at the thought.  It merely allows that right wing meme of the have and have nots win rather than the ultimate issue come down to fair wages, more jobs in the US, and the idea that we have to actually make it where more people can afford to BUY HOMES.  It needs to be both, fair wages and a fair cost of home which would mean more people being able to afford a home, not just sprawling suburbia but condos, townhomes, etc.

These are people.  And so, today, the Wall Street Journal published a piece entitled, “Faces of the Home-Foreclosure Crisis”.  This is what we need to remember.  Every piece of paper has a face to it and every home has a story, a life and family.  Every family is part of a street, a cul-de-sac and a community.

So this is is what I ask of you.  If you’ve read this far, donate $5 to your local legal aid society.   They are doing the work to help keep families in their homes.   You can use Google or go to the link above.  That’s all I ask.

Crossposted from FDL.

Legal Aid for the masses

Some people underestimate Richard Nixon’s legacy. Some of the most progressive social programs came during his administration.  Legal Aid was one of these achievements.  Since that time, the Legal Services Corporation has been phenomenally successful, to the limited extent of its funding.  Unfortunately, funding for the LSC has been minimalistic since the 80s.  Reagan came into office and slashed that commy program for the do-gooder lawyer types.  Of course, that just left judges to deal with parties who were ill-equipped to handle the issues in front of them.

However, not all California Republicans are so naive.  One example is the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Ronald M. George.  George has said that he would like the state to begin a pilot program to provide legal services to the indigent for a broad range of cases.   Check over the flip.


California’s top judge said Tuesday that he wants the state to provide lawyers for the poor in civil cases such as child custody disputes and evictions in which people often have to represent themselves.

Chief Justice Ronald George said he will ask Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to test the idea by funding a pilot project in three counties — one small, one medium-size and one large — to provide attorneys for low-income litigants in a limited category of cases, including family law and housing, in which important individual rights are at stake. He didn’t identify the counties.(SF Chron 12/19/06)


  Dave Jones (D-Sacto), is preparing to introduce legislation authorizing the pilot program and funding it.  The initial cost estimates are around $20 million for the pilot program will be difficult to attain with the $3.5 billion deficit (for which Arnold Schwarzenegger has no plan), but this would be $20 million well spent.  You see, properly and swiftly settled disputes save us all money.  In fact, the courts end up wasting so much time trying to figure out what’s going on in these pro se cases that the $20 million will likely be recovered through more prompt decisions and less over time, etc.


  This is a great idea, and I applaud both Jones and George for their advocacy in this area.  Hey Assemblyman Jones, that’s 2 good bills for you.  Keep up the good work.