SeniorLAW Center is proud to launch a new court-based partnership with the Office of Housing and Community Development and the First Judicial District to provide focused services for senior homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure to help save their homes. With OHCD support, SeniorLAW Center staff attorneys will now staff a “senior triage” project in Philadelphia’s award-winning Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Court, to strategize with senior homeowners and the housing counselors assisting them to assess their mortgage problems, identify action plan and resources, negotiate, educate, and work together to keep seniors in their homes and access additional financial, tax, home repair, health and other resources.
Sherene Brooks, OHCD; Elizabeth Shay, Homeowners Assistance Coordinator, SeniorLAW Center; Karen C. Buck, Executive Director, SeniorLAW Center; Hiram Carmona, OHCD; Wendy E. Bookler, Legal Director, SeniorLAW Center
For over 6 years the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program of the First Judicial District has brought relief to thousands of distressed homeowners in Philadelphia by negotiating resolutions which keep families in their homes. “From the beginning it was apparent that a large sector of those homeowners at risk was older Americans,” observed Judge Annette Rizzo, founder and leader of the award-winning Diversion Court. “Our ‘go to’ Agency to help us on issues specific to this community was and remains SeniorLAW Center. The overwhelming need for the legal support of seniors on the brink of homelessness, those individuals and family members who are as well wrestling other issues such as health problems, safety concerns, etc., has always been greater than the resources available. Now, with SeniorLAW’s recently formed formal partnership with OHCD in the Diversion Program we have consistent services for this vulnerable population. Their client service has been remarkable as well as support for the wonderful team of housing counselors. On behalf of the Court we are ever grateful for SeniorLAW’s commitment to this program- the positive results were apparent from day one! Thank you for helping us save homes — one address, one senior at a time!”
SeniorLAW Center attorneys have been representing individual senior homeowners in the program since it began in 2008. However, “with the arrival of this new courtroom based triage program, we’ve moved from an informal collaboration to a front and center courtroom presence for all homeowners 60 years and older,” states Elizabeth Shay, who has been leading SeniorLAW Center’s Homeowners Assistance Program and advocating for senior homeowners for over 6 years. “We’re excited at the efficiencies that our new program creates. For newly filed foreclosure cases, we are there at the first conference to strategize with housing counselors and find the quickest route to a resolution that is appropriate for the senior. For cases having their 3rd, 4th, 5th and even 6th conference, we will help find a solution to the problem that will benefit the senior and move the case forward.”
“We are delighted with the new project we have with SeniorLAW Center,” stated Hiram Carmona, Manager of Housing Counseling, OHCD. “The City of Philadelphia has been trying to address the needs of seniors requiring enhanced services for several years. We have come to the realization that more intensive services are needed as the City’s population becomes older and our seniors require and deserve focused attention.”
Senior homeowners can access the services of SeniorLAW Center’s new triage program in City Hall, Courtroom 676 with their appointed Housing Counselor when diversion court is held each Thursday. Low-income homeowners facing foreclosure or other legal problems can also call the Pennsylvania SeniorLAW Center HelpLine for assistance at 215.988.1242 or outside Philadelphia at 1.877.PA SR LAW.
CLICK HERE to read SeniorLAW Center’s flyer on Legal Assistance for Seniors in Foreclosure.