Applying for HAMP? You’ll Need a Lawyer. Plus, 10 Years Post-Katrina, Civil Legal Aid Still Key to Recovery

August 31, 2015 - 7:03 am
If July was a “hot” month for civil legal aid in the media, August was no slouch either. Here are a few late-summer developments.

Sure, July was a “hot” month for civil legal aid in the media, but August was no slouch either. Here are a few late-summer developments.

It is no secret that foreclosure fallout continues to visit calamity on thousands if not millions of homeowners. But when a recent report to Congress by Christy L. Romero, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, revealed that 70 percent of homeowners who applied for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) were turned down, Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times asked Voices to put her in touch with a borrower who had a HAMP story to tell. We reached out to the JusticeVoices network and received many good responses. (Thank you!) Morgenson’s piece, A Slack Lifeline for Drowning Homeowners, ran on the front page of the business section on Sunday, August 2. Jacob Inwald, director of foreclosure prevention at Legal Services NYC, and Jessica Radbord, an attorney at Vermont Legal Aid, are both quoted, and a client story from Vermont is featured.

That coverage led to an August 17 New York Times editorial, The Problem With House Prices, which further spotlighted the problems with HAMP and linked back to the story featuring civil legal aid.

Last week, Jacob Inwald let us know about additional local coverage that resulted from Morgenson’s story:

These are good examples of how a national story can become the impetus for local coverage. If you have a local civil legal aid angle on a national story (whether or not the national story already features civil legal aid) Voices is ready to help you make that pitch. Just ask.

Hurricane Katrina – 10th Anniversary
The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina provided an opportunity for us to encourage reporters already covering the event to include civil legal aid in their stories. Working with Laura Tuggle, executive director of Southeastern Louisiana Legal Services, Chiraag Bains, senior counsel to the assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice, and Reilly Morse, president and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice, we pitched several media outlets.  Here are the best results:

Why Legal Advocates Are Crucial for Victims of Disaster (by Chiraag Bains, Huffington Post, 8/31/15)

These New Orleans Residents Are Still Trying To Go Home (by Bryce Covert, ThinkProgress, 8/29/15)

After a Disaster Like Katrina, Water, Food, and Shelter Are Not Enough (by Laura Tuggle, The Nation, 8/27/15. Also published at

The Justice Gap – If you care about equity, legal aid belongs high on the list of crucial disaster recovery programs (by Katy Reckdahl, ShelterForce, 8/24/15)

After Katrina, New Orleans’ Public Housing Is A Mix Of Pastel And Promises (Pam Fessler, NPR’s Morning Edition, 8/17/15)

You are a critical member of the Voices team. Thank you for your encouragement, for your suggestions and trendspotting, and for helping us to build strong pitches. We know there are important untold stories of the critical role of civil legal aid in every community.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have an idea, or see a trend that may interest a reporter.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Geographic coverage: Louisiana, Mississippi, NATIONAL, New York, Vermont
Tags: Consumer Protection, Disaster Recovery, Housing: Foreclosure