LSC-funded office helps client avoid foreclosure

Marcia Cypen, director of Legal Services of Greater Miami (LSGM), recounted the story of a client who recently avoided foreclosure. The woman had fallen behind on her $1,875 per month mortgage payments. By the time she came to LSGM she was facing significant back payments and was afraid she would lose her home to foreclosure.

The lawyers at LSGM helped her apply for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the loan-restructuring plan offered by the federal government. The process is lengthy and arduous, especially for people with no legal training. LSGM worked with her in filing documents, following up with bank lawyers, and in protecting her from administrative errors.

HAMP is “different for people representing themselves,” said Cypen. “They might have language issues, maybe they’re not as well educated.”

A week before I spoke with Cypen, her client had qualified for mortgage modification, and thereby had her monthly payments reduced to $1,059. “Now she and her family are going to keep their house,” Cypen said.

But not everyone who walks through LSGM’s doors gets the agency’s assistance. “There are people who come to our office with this same problem who we can’t help because we just don’t have the staff to do it,” Cypen explained. “We create categories: If you’re over 60, or you have children in the home, or there’s a disabled person involved, those cases get priority. If you’re a single person or a couple coming in, we might just give you advice but not represent you,” she explained. “They’re just as much in need… It’s hard [for me] to sleep at night sometimes.”

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