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Empire Justice Center Praises Governor for Quick Action on “Shadow Docket” Bill

For Immediate Release

August 1, 2013

Contact: Kirsten E. Keefe,  (518) 462-6831
Kristin Brown,  (518) 462-6831

Law shortens New York’s protracted foreclosure process, helping homeowners and communities.

Today Empire Justice Center praised Governor Cuomo for swiftly signing legislation that keeps homeowners at risk of foreclosure from falling into a legal limbo, allowing them to get into court supervised mediation more quickly to obtain affordable loan modifications.

“We are so grateful to the Governor for bringing quick relief to homeowners facing foreclosure, and to the legislature for its broad support and passage of this critical bill.  We also want to express our thanks to the Office of Court Administration and Attorney General Schneiderman for initiating the bill and to members of New Yorkers for Responsible Lending from across the state for their advocacy efforts.  Getting this bill from conception to chapter was a real team effort,” said Kristin Brown Lilley, Director of Policy Advocacy at Empire Justice Center.

A.5582-a/S.4530-a (Weinstein/Klein) requires that a Certificate of Merit, showing that the lender has done their due diligence to ensure a home should be in foreclosure and that the plaintiff is the proper party, be filed with the initiation of the foreclosure rather than later on in the foreclosure process.  Documentation verifying the plaintiff has standing must be filed as well.

 “With this new law homeowners who are in a position to save their homes should now be able to quickly get a settlement conference, obtain an affordable loan modification and stay in their homes.  Before this, NY homeowners in foreclosure often were ending up in legal limbo, known as the shadow docket.  These homeowners had received notice that their lender had initiated a foreclosure, but because the lender had failed to file the required paper work, the whole process was stalled.  Homeowners were unable to schedule the legally mandated settlement conference, but they were still racking up interest and fees, putting them at greater risk of walking away or losing their home to foreclosure,” explained Maria DeGennaro, Long Island Regional Coordinator for the NYS Office of the Attorney General Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP).

Kirsten Keefe, Senior Attorney at Empire Justice added “Not only should this law help homeowners, we expect it to positively impact neighborhoods and communities as well, by moving foreclosures on vacant and abandoned properties along more swiftly.”

The new law goes into effect 30 days from July 31, 2013.

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Empire Justice Center is a statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy, public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low-income families live.  Empire Justice protects and strengthens the legal rights of people in New York State who are poor, disabled or disenfranchised through: systems change advocacy, training and support to other advocates and organizations, and high quality direct civil legal representation.  Empire Justice has four offices in Albany, Rochester, White Plains and on Long Island.