The Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association Inc. in Florida has been awarded $84,000 to be used for a new foreclosure defense assistance program. The program is funded by money obtained by the state's attorney general, Bill McCollum, through a settlement with Countrywide Financial.
McCollum and the Florida Bar Foundation formally awarded the funds to the Legal Aid Society Monday.
A total of $4 million will be available over two years to fund additional lawyer and paralegal positions devoted to providing free assistance to homeowners facing foreclosures who cannot afford legal defense.
"With these funds, we can provide direct legal assistance to Central Florida homeowners trying to save their homes," McCollum says.
The Florida Bar Foundation received $2 million from the attorney general's office to distribute in the form of annual grants. The grants will vary in amount depending on the number of foreclosures in a particular area. A total of $2 million is available for distribution this year, and another $2 million will be available next year.
Legal Aid Society President Heather Rodriguez says the money will fund a Foreclosure Clinic, which will be staffed by a housing attorney.
New foreclosure cases in Orange County totaled 26,131 last year. Projections estimate that 40,000 new foreclosure cases will be filed in the county this year.
More awards for the foreclosure defense program will be announced later this week throughout the state, McCollum's office says.