Current Size: 100%
HOUSING LAW TASK FORCE
Chairs: Louis Dorsey and Rachel Wolpert
Statewide Support Unit Advocate: Gregory Countess
Senior Attorney Advocate: Susan Tannenbaum
Senior Paralegal Advocate: Deborah Lewis Smith
Housing Forum Posts
Housing Law Legal Resources
Housing Law Pleading Bank
Friends and Colleagues,
The Public Justice Center is increasing its outreach to tenants whose landlords are in foreclosure statewide. If you could remind your intake personnel that they are welcome to refer tenants whose landlords are in foreclosure to us, I would greatly appreciate it. I've drafted a blurb below that may be helpful.
Public Justice Center Assisting Tenants in Foreclosure Statewide
The Public Justice Center continues to provide free legal advice and representation statewide to tenants whose landlords are in foreclosure. Nationwide approximately 30% of all properties in foreclosure are occupied by tenants. The Public Justice Center assists tenants in foreclosure with a variety of issues including rent payments, addressing conditions that threaten health or safety, confusing notices to vacate, eviction actions, and relocation agreements.
Please refer tenants whose landlords are in foreclosure to the Public Justice Center by phone at 410-625-9409 (Baltimore) or toll free 1-877-625-9409 (statewide). Se habla Español.
If you have further questions, please contact Matt Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-625-9409, ext. 229.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been a valuable tool for both law enforcement and immigration practitioners alike. The legislation has helped survivors of domestic and sexual violence come out the shadows and it has provided a mechanism for regularizing the immigration status of these survivors. VAWA 2013 now extends protections to other vulnerable groups.
Please join M. Audrey Carr, Director of Immigration and Special Programs at Legal Services NYC, and Julie E. Dinnerstein, Co-Director of the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families, for a free One-Hour briefing on VAWA 2013. Topics to be discussed include:
- The history of VAWA
- Expanded protections under VAWA 2013
- Immigration Provisions of VAWA 2013
Save the Date: Celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act at BNI’s Meet & Greet & Annual Meeting:
Keynote Speaker: Baltimore native, attorney Paulette Brown, partner and chief diversity officer of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP ( Madison, NJ). Ms. Brown co-authored the nationally acclaimed Commission on Women in the Profession Women of Color Research Initiative study, Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms. A past president of the National Bar Association, Ms. Brown is slated to become the first woman of color to serve as American Bar Association president.
Where:Temple Oheb Shalom
7310 Park Heights Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21208
For more information contact:
PJC recently published a guide to collecting on judgments in Maryland. It is helpful not only after you have a judgment, but may also help you decide to litigate a case where you might have thought suing someone would result in a mere paper judgment. The guide focuses on judgments for unpaid wages and related damages, but is also useful for judgments in other cases.
The three fundamental components of this manual are: (1) pre- and post-judgment defendant investigation and asset research; (2) prejudgment tools to proactively prevent employers and other potential judgment debtors from hiding or selling off assets; and (3) judgment enforcement, including enforcement for unpaid wages.
Check it out here:
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AWARD WINNING NON-PROFIT LAW FIRM SEEKS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Civil Justice Inc., a Maryland non-profit legal services program, is seeking a full time Executive Director.
Civil Justice provides legal services, including in impact cases, to people throughout Maryland and supports a network of small firm and solo attorneys to help meet the legal needs of historically underserved Marylanders.
About Civil Justice
Civil Justice was established in 1998 to increase the delivery of legal services to clients of low- and moderate-income while promoting a statewide network of community based lawyers who share a common commitment to access to justice.
Since it was founded, Civil Justice has become a recognized leader nationally and in Maryland by: (i) helping solo and small firm lawyers integrate public interest and private practices; (ii) successfully pursuing impact ligation on consumer and housing issues affecting Marylanders; (iii) providing policy advocacy at all levels of government; and (iv) providing other essential services to homeowners in foreclosure, debtors in bankruptcy, and other vulnerable consumers who have been victims of predatory practices.
About The Position & Qualifications
The Civil Justice Board of Directors seeks applications from candidates who have the commitment and capacity to lead the organization, including in new ways. It will give preference to candidates who have five years of related professional experience (including a background in consumer, foreclosure and/or housing law and solo or small firm practice), and three years or more of active litigation practice (federal and/or state courts), and who are licensed or eligible to practice law in Maryland within one year of the hire date.
Candidates should have the ability to:
• Provide support and vision to the organization’s network of solo and small firm attorneys;
• Direct/manage the organization’s active litigation practice, create and implement a litigation plan, and coordinate with staff and outside counsel;
• Oversee the organization’s various projects;
• Lead the organization’s Development Program (which heavily relies on grant proposals);
• Direct the administration and financial management of the organization;
• Lead and implement strategic planning initiatives; and
• Exercise creativity and vision in leading the organization and developing new legal services delivery mechanisms.
Interested candidates should apply by sending a confidential resume and cover letter detailing (i) the candidate’s interest in this opportunity and (ii) salary requirements and expectations for a position to: Civil Justice Inc., Attention: Executive Director Search, 520 W. Fayette Street, Suite 410, Baltimore, MD 21201, or via E-mail at email@example.com.
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Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice settled a case against Countrywide for discrimination in fair lending practices among Hispanic and African-American borrowers who received loans from Countrywide between 2004 and 2008. Awards range from $200-$15,000.
Letters were sent to borrowers in November 2012 with a deadline of January 7, 2013. (See sample letters attached.) THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED for two weeks UNTIL JANUARY 25, 2013.
Only borrowers contacted as part of the settlement are eligible. Sample letters are attached. Questions about the settlement should be directed to (800) 843-5148 or info@CWFLSettlement.com.
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|National multiple borrower sample letter.pdf||416.82 KB|
If you are a member of the Task Force, find the GoToMeeting information at:
Be sure to sign in to see the page.
the locations for the 2013 meetings are:
Jan. 15 - Baltimore
Mar. 19 - Metro
May 21 - Baltimore
July 16 - Metro
Sept. 17 - Baltimore
Nov. 19 - Metro
for office addresses, see: http://www.mdlab.org/About%20Us
Has anyone else encountered a Housing Authority that refuses to allow questions to the HA rep who is presenting evidence in a voucher termination hearing?
In Charles County, rather than having witnesses (e.g., a housing inspector or a cop), the HA rep goes through a stack of documents (e.g., the inspection report or police report), explains what they are, reads from the HA file notes included with the stack, and offers the stack of documents as evidence.
At my last hearing, the HA rep finished with her testimony and documents. I started to ask a question and the hearing officer said, "We don't have questions." I addressed the issue with the Housing Chief. She said they are "going back to" the practice of not allowing questions directed to the HA rep. I said I have the right to cross-examine witnesses and she said the the HA rep is not a witness, that witnesses are people from outside the HA who testify.
The Housing Chief said that she called other HAs and found this is a common practice. I'm wondering how common.
Finish your holiday shopping early and support Maryland Legal Aid at the same time.
Shop at The Dancing Bear Toy Store located at 12 North Market Street in historic downtown Frederick, Maryland, any time between November 14 and 21. Present this coupon and 15% of your total purchase price will benefit your local Legal Aid office serving Frederick, Carroll and Washington counties.
Proceeds of sales donated to Legal Aid will support community outreach and direct legal services to low- income residents of the Midwestern Maryland region. Founded in 1911, Legal Aid is Maryland’s largest provider of free civil legal services.
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From the NHLP website and listserv:
Dear advocates, attorneys, and OVW grantees,
On Tuesday, October 30, at 11 a.m. Pacific/12 p.m. Mountain/1 p.m. Central/2 p.m. Eastern, the National Housing Law Project will present "Improving Domestic Violence Survivors' Access to Housing." The webinar will last 90 minutes. If multiple people from your program will attend, please view the webinar together so that we can maximize the number of programs who can participate. Register online here.
What Will Be Covered?
Building relationships with housing authorities and private landlords is critical to helping domestic violence survivors secure housing. During this training, domestic violence advocates will share how they developed partnerships with housing providers in their communities. Topics will include strategies for engaging housing authorities and private landlords and best practices for working with housing providers. Advocates will discuss case examples illustrating how their efforts resulted in domestic violence survivors obtaining housing and/or avoiding homelessness.
Registration page: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5425871425478818560
NHLP's website: www.nhlp.org
I hope folks can make it to the dinner. Ask your boss to pay.
MCRC honors architect of landmark mortgage discrimination lawsuits
Prominent consumer rights and fair housing attorney John Relman will be named “Legal Champion of the Year” by the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition’s (MCRC) at its 12th Annual Awards Celebration on Thurs. Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville, MD. WTOP radio’s “Call For Action” consumer volunteer team, Del. Craig Zucker, and Maryland Deputy Commissioner of Financial Regulation Anne Balcer Norton will also win major awards from Maryland’s only statewide consumer advocacy group that evening.
The award honors Mr. Relman’s innovative and brilliant legal work as the architect of the “reverse redlining” suits against Wells Fargo for pushing well-qualified minority borrowers into risky and expensive subprime loans during the years of the housing bubble.
“The lawsuits John Relman helped put together struck an important blow against mortgage discrimination and subprime lending” MCRC Executive Director Marceline White notes. “They will make a real difference in protecting the right to fair housing for all of our communities.”
Wells Fargo settled those suits with Baltimore and other state and local governments this summer. The city of Baltimore will realize at least $7.5 million from its settlement and communities around the country won more than $175 million.
MCRC will also honor three other leading consumer advocates:
Consumer Advocate of the Year -- Deputy Commissioner of Financial Regulation Anne Balcer Norton: Honored for her years of work in state government and at Baltimore’s St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center to protect consumers’ rights to fair housing and fair treatment.
- Legislative Achievement of the Year – Del. Craig Zucker: Honored for his leadership in sponsoring landmark legislation that will protect vulnerable Marylanders from identity theft (HB 555/SB 295) and in helping pass a law that will prevent families that lose their homes to foreclosures from being stuck with extra tax bills (HB 600/ SB 580).
- WTOP’s Call For Action Consumer Volunteer Team – Consumer Volunteers of the Year: Honored for more than 35 years of hard work to protect Washington-area consumers from abuse by businesses and public agencies and to give consumer a voice larger than their own.
MCRC’s 2012 awards event will feature a special focus on the foreclosure crisis that continues to cost hundreds of families their homes each month and threatens tens of thousands of others with foreclosure.
“Anne Balcer Norton, Del. Zucker, and John Relman have all made critical contributions in helping families survive the foreclosure crisis,” Marceline White notes. “As thousands of families still struggle to save their homes and families across the state struggle to meet underwater mortgages, we think it’s a great time to honor these advocates and to gather to discuss what we can do next to help families save their homes.”
Tickets for the event are $50 and they’re available through MCRC’s website here: http://www.marylandconsumers.org/Members/2012AnnualMeeting/tabid/159/Default.aspx
MCRC thanks Fitzgerald Auto Malls, AARP Maryland, Gordon and Wolf Ltd., the St Ambrose Housing Aid Center, the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, Tracfone Wireless, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, the Health Care for All Coalition, the Maryland CASH Campaign and Civil Justice Inc. for their generous sponsorship of the event.
The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC) is a statewide advocacy groups that protects and advances the interests of Maryland consumers through research, education, and advocacy. Find MCRC on the web at www.marylandconsumers.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/mdconsumers and on Twitter at twitter.com/mdconsumers.
Dear Mandela screening and Housing is a Human Right discussion is just 48 hours away! Did you get your tickets yet?
What: Dear Mandela Screening
Where: 2640 Space: 2640 St Paul St. Baltimore MD 21218
When: October 11 2012, Doors open at 6:30pm, the event start at 7:00pm
Suggested donation $5-10, All funds will be donated to Abahlali baseMjondolo.
United Workers, Public Justice Center, Baltimore Occupy Our Homes and Baltimore Right to Housing Alliance are proud to host the Baltimore screening of Dear Mandela, a film that told the story of the social movement for Housing as Human Right on South Africa.
About Dear Mandela:
When Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa, his government was faced with a seemingly insurmountable task: providing a better life for those who had suffered under apartheid. The cornerstone of Mandela’s ‘unbreakable promise’ was an ambitious plan to ensure housing for all. Eighteen years later, as the number of families living in slums has doubled, a frightening tale of betrayal is unfolding.
The government is trying to ‘eradicate the slums’ by evicting shack dwellers from their homes at gunpoint, in scenes eerily reminiscent of apartheid-era forced removals. Determined to stop the bulldozers that are destroying homes and communities, a new social movement made up of the nation’s poorest is challenging the evictions on the streets and in the courts. DEAR MANDELA is the remarkable story of Abahlali BaseMjondolo – Zulu for ‘people of the shacks’. It is considered the largest movement of the poor to emerge in post-apartheid South Africa.
DEAR MANDELA brings us into the everyday lives of three dynamic leaders of the movement. Determined to stop the evictions, Mazwi, Zama and Mnikelo met with their communities by candlelight to study and debate new housing legislation. The shack dwellers discovered that the innocuous-sounding Slums Act legalized mass evictions and violated the rights enshrined in the country’s landmark Constitution. They challenged the Slums Act all the way to the highest court in the land – the hallowed Constitutional Court.
The extraordinary achievements of the shack dwellers did not come without a price. Their movement’s very existence is threatened by shack demolitions, assassination attempts and lengthy prison detention without trial. When Zama and Mazwi are drawn into a dangerous mob attack, they learn of the contradictions inherent in the difficult decisions leaders must make, and experience how great leadership is often accompanied by great sacrifice.
After the screening we invited you to stay for the disscusion with Zodwa Nsibande and Mnikel Ndabankulu – two members of Abahlali baseMjondolo who are in the US for a tour of the film – as well with local groups to take the global disscusion to the local housing issues that we are confronting on Baltimore City.
Suggested donation $5-10, All funds will be donated to Abahlali baseMjondolo.
What: Dear Mandela Screening
Where: 2640 Space: 2640 St Paul St. Baltimore MD 21218
When: October 11 2012, Doors open at 6:30pm, the event start at 7:00pm
More information: http://abahlali.org/
Below please find a brief description of a recent Court of Appeals decision (attached) involving tenants in foreclosure. Many thanks to Legal Aid (especially Cheryl, Greg and Lyndsay) for a great amicus brief!
On August 20, 2012, in Curtis v. U.S. Bank National Association, No. 96, Sept. Term 2011, the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed the rights of tenants to receive clear, accurate notice from foreclosure sale purchasers. Ms. Judy Curtis, a teacher’s assistant in Anne Arundel County Schools, and her two young children had been renting their home in Pasadena, Maryland with the assistance of the local Housing Choice Voucher program since 2007. Despite paying her portion of the rent each month and continuing her lease on a month-to-month basis after her most recent one-year lease expired, Ms. Curtis began receiving various notices about a possible foreclosure on her rental home. Ms. Curtis is a bona fide tenant as defined by the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) and recent revisions to Maryland law. Under the PTFA, any foreclosure sale purchaser of the property must step into the shoes of the former landlord, and, if the purchaser wants the tenant to vacate, the purchaser must provide the tenant a notice to vacate of at least 90 days.
As the Court of Appeals noted, in late December 2010, Ms. Curtis received two notices simultaneously from U.S. Bank, the foreclosure sale purchaser, one of which advised her that she must “immediately vacate, quit, and surrender possession” although she might have other rights. The other notice instructed her to vacate the property by March 23, 2011. Finally, compounding the confusion, in early January 2011, U.S. Bank submitted a motion asking the Court to evict Ms. Curtis while asserting that it had the right to “immediate possession.”
Ms. Curtis retained the Public Justice Center to represent her in opposing U.S. Bank’s motion. The Circuit Court decided in favor of U.S. Bank. Ms. Curtis appealed and obtained review in the Maryland Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals found that U.S. Bank’s notices were “confusing and ineffective” to comply with the PTFA. The Court reasoned as follows:
A tenant who chooses to stay in the face of such a notice and motion will be beset by uncertainty as to his or her immediate future in the residence. This does not serve the PTFA’s goal of providing stability and adequate notice to tenants of defaulting landlord-borrowers…. In our view, under the circumstances of this case, it is not appropriate to find that a defective notice became effective through the simple passage of time. The obligation to provide advance notice is a forward-looking requirement intended to allow the tenant to plan for the future. Compliance should not be measured in hindsight, particularly when a misleading notice has never been corrected.
This is a significant victory for tenants in enforcing the PTFA and effectuating tenants’ right to security of tenure, which is essential to fully realizing the human right to housing. Ms. Curtis was supported by an amicus brief emphasizing the human rights’ aspect of the case submitted by the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, National Housing Law Project, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Bay Area Legal Aid, Community Legal Services, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Ohio Poverty Law Center, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, and Florence Wagman Roisman. Ms. Curtis and the Public Justice Center offer sincere thanks to these amici.
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Promoting Diverse Communities and Communicating Fair Housing - Free Webinar - National Fair Housing Alliance
Please join us on September 10, 2012 for the Free 90 Minute Webinar:
Promoting Diverse Communities and Communicating Fair Housing
Offered by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), funded in part under a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program Grant.
In this third webinar in NFHA’s series about affirmatively furthering fair housing, we will discuss how communicating effectively about fair housing, disparate impact, and equal opportunity can be challenging, but is paramount to creating change in your community. Drawing from his expertise in messaging and public opinion research about how Americans view these issues, Alan Jenkins, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Opportunity Agenda, will discuss strategies for framing fair housing issues that advocates may use to engage allies and decision-makers about the importance of fair housing.
When: Monday September 10, 2012 2:00 -3:30 P.M. EASTERN TIME
Presenter: Alan Jenkins, Executive Director
The Opportunity Agenda
Who May Attend: Registration is open to employees of fair housing organizations, disability rights organizations, nonprofit housing counseling agencies, affordable housing advocates and non-profit housing developers, nonprofit legal services organizations, Fair Housing Assistance Programs, state and local housing and community development agencies, and other local, state and federal agencies.
You may also access the registration page from the Fair Lending Training tab on our homepage at: www.nationalfairhousing.org and scroll down to the link for the September 10, 2012 webinar.
Here is my question:
We concluded a divorce hearing on July 6, 2012 in which client received an absolute divorce, rehabilitative alimony, child support and the court also ordered that the husband continue to provide medical insurance for Client and Child through his employer provided group insurance plan.
On Friday, August 1, 2012 , my client found out from Husband's employer, a large hospital, that the Husband allowed his insurance to lapse as of June 30, 2012, just before our divorce hearing. Husband, who is pro se, denies this and claims he he renewed the insurance. No notice was given to my client of the lapse.
To be brief, the employer reinstated the Child on the insurance policy, but refused to reinstate Client. The employer is claiming that she is no longer a beneficiary. I know that under MD Code Insurance § 15-408, allows for a divorced spouse to continue to be covered on the other party's health insurance.
What is there any way to compel the insurance company to reinstate her?
From: National Housing Law Project [mailto:National_Housing_Law_Project@mail.vresp.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 7:03 PM
Subject: Breaking News- NHLP's 4th Edition HUD Housing Programs Tenants' Rights
NCLC's 2012 Summer Mortgage Conference
Date: July 17-18, 2012
Location: L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C,
Please save the date for this two-day intensive training and conference program!
You will learn about the latest developments affecting your mortgage and foreclosure practice cases. Expert litigators from across the country will share their insights from private practices, legal aid offices, and government agencies.
Topics will include:
- an overview of the Attorneys General settlement
- the new FHFA servicing guidelines
- HAMP program and litigation updates
- loan documentation and MERS
- bankruptcy developments
- finding gold in PSA agreements
- new CFPB mortgage rules
- dealing with tax consequences of loan mods
- successful litigation strategies
- saving manufactured homes from foreclosure
- and updates on federal statutes affecting mortgages and loan servicing
Registration and hotel information will be posted soon on the NCLC website.
If you are a Legal Aid advocate who is interested in attending please complete a Level 2 training request and submit to Yoanna Moisides at firstname.lastname@example.org. Legal Aid is waiting for additional information on the pricing.