September 13, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SANTA ANA, CA (September 13, 2016). The Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC) $20,000 in program funding, $10,000 of which will go to LASOC’s Foreclosure Mitigation Unit (FMU) to help prevent foreclosures in Orange County and surrounding communities.
Founded in 2008, the FMU has provided homeowners, particularly those adversely affected by the housing crisis, with free advice and assistance. Staffed by attorneys, paralegals, and housing counselors, the FMU provides comprehensive legal assistance, education, outreach, and counseling, to empower and assist families at risk of losing their homes.
The project targets households with low and moderate incomes, and has expanded its service areas to Riverside, San Diego, and San Bernardino due to assistance insufficiencies in these counties. For many of these at-risk households, there are few options and little resources to turn to for help.
FMU Certified Housing Counselors work with the clients to create a needs-based action plan which includes providing financial advice and financial assessment of the homeowner’s ability to afford a house. FMU advocates with financial institutions, like Wells Fargo, to assist homeowners in obtaining affordable loan payments through loan modifications.
A single mother shares the positive impact of working with a FMU housing counselor. “I went through a divorce and also lost my job at about the same time,” says the recent client. “I was not able to keep up with my financial obligations and began falling behind with my mortgage payments. It was such a nightmare having to wake up every day not knowing if we were going to lose out home…I kept phoning every assistance line until I was led to [the FMU housing counselor]. For the 6 months I have been working with [the FMU housing counselor], miracles happened.” With FMU’s support and guidance, the single mother and her children were able to keep their home.
LASOC requested the funds from the Wells Fargo Foundation to continue to keep as many homeowners in their homes as possible and to prevent the displacement of families. FMU supports homeowners through an array of legal services and strategies including comprehensive legal assistance, education through workshops & clinics, outreach, counseling, document review, credit & debt management, budget evaluations, and referrals.
“We are always looking to develop long-term relationships and work together with customers and nonprofits to plan for a better financial future. Providing tools that empower customers to take control of their finances protects them from risk,” says Wells Fargo Greater Orange County President Keith Kobata. “When we can help community members stay in their homes, we are fulfilling our mission of helping people succeed financially.”
“We are thrilled the Wells Fargo Foundation sees value in the work we are doing,” says Crystal Sims, LASOC Housing Attorney. “Many in our community are still feeling the ripple effects of the national mortgage crisis, and for a significant number of our clients, FMU is their last hope for keeping their homes.”
Iris Ma, Director of Fund Development
Legal Aid Society of Orange County
2101 North Tustin Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705
firstname.lastname@example.org | 714.571.5220
About the Legal Aid Society of Orange County
Since 1958, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County has provided free legal aid services to our community’s most vulnerable: veterans, the elderly, the homeless, families, and low-income individuals. Our mission is to support equal access to the justice system.