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California AG awards homeowner assistance grants

California’s top lawyer is granting dozens of organizations millions of dollars in benefits to better assist homeowners affected by the state’s foreclosure crisis.

California’s National Mortgage Settlement Grant Program awarded $9.4 million to 21 organizations, with the ultimate goal of aiding the state’s neediest homeowners by providing foreclosure intervention aid. 

Additionally, the grants will expand access to free legal assistance and representation, homeowner education, financial literacy clinics, blight remediation services, fraud prevention education and employment support services, said California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“The foreclosure crisis has inflicted wide-ranging and deep harm to California homeowners and communities,” she said. “These grants will give homeowners and families the financial and legal tools they need to recover.” 

Many of the organizations receiving grants focus on disproportionately impacted populations including Native Americans, rural homeowners and the elderly.

The grant is in accordance with Harris’ decision to construct a legal task force to handle cases that could surface under the state’s new Homeowner Bill of Rights.

In March, the HBOR program issued a $1 million grant to the The National Housing Law Project. The funds will support a powerhouse team of lawyers to investigate and potentially prosecute cases under the homeowner-focused legislation. 

The goal of the grant is to provide training to 800 California consumer and housing attorneys from both private and nonprofit firms through on-site training and webinars on how to maximize the HBOR’s protections. 

Last year, Harris appointed Katherine Porter, professor of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, as the state’s monitor of the commitment by the nation’s five largest banks to perform as much as $18 billion worth of borrower benefits in the state.

As a result, the California State Bar has partnered with the attorney general’s office to administer the grants and monitor compliance. The organizations are required to provide financial and operational reports to both offices.

“In working with homeowners up-and-down California, I have seen the invaluable work being done by community-based organizations like these,” Porter said. “Families working to get back on their feet will benefit greatly from the programs funded by these grants.”

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