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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2009
Project to provide free legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure

WSBA Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project now accepting clients

The following news release was issued by the WSBA. The version below includes additional information on how the Attorney General's Office is supporting these efforts:

SEATTLE -- The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) is pleased to announce that its Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project is accepting clients. In response to the current foreclosure crisis in our state, the WSBA is partnering with the Northwest Justice Project (NJP) to provide free legal assistance to Washington residents in danger of losing their homes. The goal of the project, which will last through May 2010, is to help Washington homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.

Homeowners in need of help who are unable to afford a lawyer can sign up by calling a toll-free number, 1-877-894-HOME (4663). Additional information is available from a link on the WSBA website, www.wsba.org. In addition to self-referrals, counselors at the statewide network of housing counseling agencies will also direct clients to the Project.

Over the past several years, the number of home foreclosures has risen dramatically across the country and in Washington state. In King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties alone, nearly 6,300 homes received a foreclosure notice in the first three months of 2009 — a threefold increase in two years. WSBA President Mark Johnson stated: "In times of trouble, lawyers are there to help, stepping up to provide assistance to those in need and tangibly demonstrating generosity, kindness, and concern for the welfare of others. I am proud that lawyers across the state are volunteering their services through the Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project."

The project has the support of Governor Chris Gregoire, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, and Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Said Governor Gregoire at a press conference held today: "I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the Washington State Bar Association and its members for stepping up to help in these difficult times. As your governor and as an attorney, I feel strongly we must all do what we can to help homeowners in need, and I'm confident the Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project will help prevent hundreds of families and individuals from losing their homes."
 
Chief Justice Alexander stated during the press conference: "Many of our fellow citizens who are our friends and neighbors are in danger of foreclosure, and this project will help level the legal playing field. As proud as I am of the Washington State Bar Association for developing this project — and I consider it one of the Bar's finest hours — I'm not at all surprised. The legal profession has a long tradition of helping those who are without the means to afford a lawyer. In times of need, lawyers are there."

"The threat of losing one's home is one of the most frightening crises a family can face," said Attorney General McKenna. "While state attorneys general have come together to negotiate settlements with major lenders requiring loan modification programs and other remedies, many homeowners still find themselves in need of legal assistance when it comes to saving their homes. That's why the Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project is so important — and that's why I'm proud to encourage the attorneys in my office to serve their communities through this project."

The Attorney General's Office provided $5,000 to fund an event at Gonzaga University to train lawyers how to provide pro bono services to clients facing foreclosure. Money for the training came from cy pres restitution paid by defendants in consumer protection enforcement actions. Assistant Attorney General David Huey presented at the event and similar trainings at Seattle University and the Washington State Association for Justice, formerly known as the state Trial Lawyers Association.

Additional resources to help homeowners facing foreclosure can be found on the Attorney General's Web site at www.atg.wa.gov/foreclosure.aspx



Media Contacts:  Judith Berrett, WSBA, Director of Member and Community Relations, 206-727-8212

Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager - Seattle, Washington Attorney General's Office, 206-464-6432

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