PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT FUNDING FOR HEMAP AND MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE PREVENTION, CONCILIATION, AND REPRESENTATION

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania’s nationally acclaimed Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (“HEMAP”) was established nearly thirty years ago to provide eligible homeowners in default on their mortgages with repayable loans to bring their mortgages current; http://www.innovations.harvard.edu/awards.html?id=127631

WHEREAS, in his July, 2009, testimony before the Financial Services Committee of the United States House of Representatives, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s Executive Director, Brian Hudson, testified that the HEMAP program had saved more than 42,700 families from foreclosure through loans totaling $442 million and more than 20,000 of these loans had been repaid in full;

WHEREAS, an analysis of the HEMAP program issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted that eighty percent (80%) of HEMAP loan recipients had retained ownership of their homes; http://www.newyorkfed.org/research/current_issues/ci17-2.pdf

WHEREAS, research published by The Reinvestment Fund in February 2012, demonstrated that from 2008 to 2010 HEMAP saved more than 6,100 homeowners from foreclosure, and estimated that the program averted an adverse economic impact of $480 million due to foreclosures in Pennsylvania, providing significant savings for Pennsylvania lenders, loan servicers, local governments, homeowners in foreclosure and their nearby neighbors; http://www.trfund.com/resource/downloads/policypubs/HEMAPsummary.pdf

WHEREAS, the HEMAP program stopped taking new applications and approving new loans effective July 1, 2011, due to insufficient FY 2011-12 Pennsylvania appropriations for the HEMAP program;

WHEREAS, the proposed FY 2012-2013 budget provides no funding for the HEMAP program;

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General is party to a mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuse action against several national banks, and consent decrees settling the cases were filed by the parties on March 12, 2012; http://www.justice.gov/opa/opa_mortgage-service.htm

WHEREAS, under the settlement, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will receive a State Payment Settlement Amount of $66,527,978 to further the respective educational and law enforcement purposes of the office of the Attorney General and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking; and the balance is to be allocated by the Attorney General, at her sole discretion, to appropriate programs that help Pennsylvania homeowners avoid foreclosure (“Settlement Amount”);

WHEREAS, the amount, timing and manner of allocation of the Settlement Amount is at the sole discretion of the Attorney General;

WHEREAS, on March 8, 2012 the Philadelphia City Council unanimously adopted a Resolution urging the Attorney General to use Settlement Amount to re-launch and restore dedicated state funding for the HEMAP program;

WHEREAS, restoration and funding of the HEMAP program is supported by a wide range of stakeholder organizations, including the banking industry;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long-standing policy of supporting funding for legal services and public interest legal organizations (“Legal Services”);

WHEREAS, in April 2009, the Philadelphia Bar Association adopted a resolution declaring that the provision of legal counsel should exist as a matter of right and at public expense for low income persons in those categories of adversarial civil proceedings where basic human needs are at stake, such as those involving shelter and housing;

WHEREAS, Legal Services programs represent nearly 10,000 low-income homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure every year, and the appropriations in Pennsylvania for such Legal Services programs have declined over the past four fiscal years due to a $100,000 freeze in 2008, a $31,000 freeze in 2009, a $30,000 freeze in 2010 and a mid-year appropriations cut in 2011;

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania Legal Services programs are also experiencing significant reductions in federal funding and Interest on Lawyers Trust Account funding, as well as the loss of federal economic stimulus funding at a time when the numbers of mortgage foreclosures are rising;

WHEREAS, in 2012, Pennsylvania mortgage foreclosure filings are up twenty-four percent (24%) from last year, and this increase coincides with the closing of the HEMAP program for new applications and funding reductions for Legal Services programs;

WHEREAS, a key component of the success of the HEMAP program is a pre-foreclosure notice that is sent to homeowners in default advising them to consult a housing counselor within ninety days and alerting them about the existence of the HEMAP program;

WHEREAS, adequate statewide funding is also needed to support the work of housing counselors as part of a comprehensive foreclosure prevention effort; and

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the Attorney General, the Governor and the General Assembly to use the Settlement Amount to provide adequate funding for a comprehensive statewide foreclosure prevention effort by using such funds to restore and operate the HEMAP program, as well as to fund housing counselors and Legal Services to provide mortgage foreclosure prevention, conciliation and representation services.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Philadelphia Bar Association further urges the Governor and the General Assembly to provide meaningful levels of funding for HEMAP and Legal Services in the proposed FY 2011-12 budget and in future state budgets.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor or his/her designee be authorized to take whatever steps are necessary to effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: March 29, 2012