Monday, April 28, 2014
Recovery is a concept that evokes diverse emotions. Feelings of triumph or hopefulness may arise from resolving, or “getting to the other side of,” a life challenge. Nonetheless, recovery also implies survival from an unpleasant experience—potentially one we never wanted to endure.
Recovery requires healing, renewal, and forward motion. In order to recover, one must acknowledge that life has changed: a potentially mournful realization that necessitates adaptation to current circumstances, as well as responsiveness to underlying scars. Just as with recovery in general, foreclosure recovery provides opportunities to re-engage life situations with new and wellness-enhancing orientations.
The aftermath of a foreclosure event can result in varied legal and financial consequences, regardless of whether one has successfully obtained a permanent modification or lost the home. Issues such as depleted savings accounts and difficulties securing a rental property may appear as immediate challenges; whereas, consequences of debt collections and deficiency judgments may arise months, or years, post-foreclosure. While such after effects may demand attention, feelings of shame and anxiety may impede proactive responses. But with tens of millions of Americans having experienced a foreclosure event, there is no cause for shame; instead, one should concentrate on opportunities for wise and effective action. By being pro-active, it is possible to get back on track!
The Civil Justice Foreclosure Recovery program is designed to help Marylanders regain their financial health post-foreclosure. The program empowers individuals with information and advice regarding outstanding financial and legal issues, such as credit disputes, deficiency judgments, and difficulties in obtaining viable housing. Eligible individuals are provided with an opportunity to meet with an attorney for a free, 90 minute consultation: at the end of the session, the participant receives a checklist with information and advice to implement to successfully move forward. This program is suitable for individuals who have received a permanent loan modification, sold or conveyed their home to avoid foreclosure, or lost their home to foreclosure. Individuals still in the foreclosure process are ineligible.
Thus far, this new program has provided meaningful outcomes for those who have participated. As one Civil Justice Foreclosure Recovery attorney shared: “My most amazing case involved a client who had no idea that his former lender was actively pursuing a deficiency judgment of over $220,000. I was able to review the history of his foreclosure case with him, explain what post-judgment collection activities were taking place and advised him to file bankruptcy.”
Making decisions about the timing of filing for bankruptcy can have significant implications; similarly, having tools to appropriately communicate with credit agencies may impact one’s financial future. For instance, in another session, the attorney provided a Foreclosure Recovery participant with two sample letters: the first was used to dispute an issue on her credit report, and a second served as a template for a “good will” letter used to request that her mortgage company remove and/or cease reporting late payments. Thus, the individual departed her session with concrete resources to effectively communicate her interests and needs.
Moving forward from foreclosure demands sound and comprehensive actions. By familiarizing oneself with the financial consequences of foreclosure and obtaining advice about how to resolve potential issues, consumers can take the steps necessary to rebuild their lives and, accordingly, recover from this life challenge. The Civil Justice Foreclosure Recovery program is committed to this vision and looks forward to providing assistance to all eligible Marylanders.